The Preah Buddha Rangsey Temple at 2400 S. Sixth Street stands out from the average aesthetic of South Philly: it’s meticulously maintained, beautifully bright and ornately ornamented. We passed by the other day, and wanted to share the beauty that can be found in our city. Digging deeper we discovered more information about Muni Ratana, the chief monk at the Temple, and some heartwarming background on the project, thanks to Mariel Waloff and the Night Kitchen Interactive.

When Ratana came to Philadelphia, he saw the need that the Cambodian community had for community services, support and a place to maintain the Cambodian culture and religion. “They need a place to gather to come together as a community,” he said. Ratana explains that the Temple, which was built without funds or grants from the government and designed to look like similar temples in Cambodia, has even quelled violence in the area. “Before there was a lot of gangs around here, but now we don’t see much around the Temple,” he explains. “Cambodians have been through The Killing Fields, they lost everything. The Temple is the place to build again their hope, to make them happy to live in the community,” say Ratana. For those who lost hope, family, everything, the Temple has become a place to build hope again. Thanks to for sharing this back story with us. —Caitlin Connors