Lao-American Buddhist Community Working to Rebuild Burned Temple

September 4, 2009

Author: Diane Smith

Source: The Buddhist Channel/,8512,0,0,1,0

Wat Lao Thepnimith looks like a postcard from Southeast Asia planted in a suburban patch of houses nestled in northwest Fort Worth.

The Buddhist campus is the heart of a Lao-American Buddhist community that began resettling in North Texas in the mid-1970s. Many of the estimated 11,000 members are refugees of Communism who fled after the Vietnam War — a conflict in which many Lao were allies of the United States.

On Aug. 24, a fire destroyed the campus temple, the Sim Building. Rebuilding is the only option for a structure described as a labor of love. "We are really so, so sad," monk Kommana Vongphakdy said.

Strangers touched by the story have brought donations. The community is working with Fort Worth to line up blueprints and permits.