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CAMBODIA: Indigenous people share voices

Salesian missionaries facilitated the second edition of the “Voices” program in Cambodia

Indigenous voices often ignored, silenced or attacked 


(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries facilitated the second edition of the “Voices” program, which amplifies the silent voices of youth, providing them with the platform and support they need. The most recent edition was held at Don Bosco Kep in Kep, Cambodia. The program is promoted by the Social Communication Sector of the Salesian Congregation.

In Cambodia, eight different Indigenous groups were involved over the two-day program at Don Bosco Kep. The groups were mainly from the northern province of Ratanakiri and provinces such as Oddar Meanchey, which is the ancestral land of the Kuy people.

“The goal is to give voice to Indigenous people in Cambodia, especially those whose voices are often ignored, silenced or attacked through discrimination and social injustice,” said Father Albeiro Rodas, director of Don Bosco Kep.

During the event, Indigenous people shared their identity, language, traditions, spirituality, territory and problems. With their traditional customs, one youth and one Cha Thom or elder, discussed these topics while adding stories and proposals for solutions. Day one of the event concluded with a cultural night and ancestral traditional music and dances performed by students. Day two provided a time for Indigenous people to share their concerns about the challenges they face and their hopes and aspirations for the future.

All participants visited the Bokor National Park Mountain, a sacred place for Cambodians. Participants gathered inside a 100-year-old abandoned Catholic Church for a moment of prayer. This was followed by  a short ceremony led by Fr. Rodas and Father Harris Pakkam, from the Social Communication Sector in Rome. All involved symbolically expressed commitment to protect and defend Indigenous rights and traditions and share the knowledge to the rest of the world.

The concluding ceremony took place around a camp fire under the full moon, where the Indigenous groups were represented by an elder and youth who shared their impressions and the impact of the program. The elders expressed a great sense of gratitude for the awareness that had been had created. They also suggested that all the discussions be documented and published in a book in the Khmer and English languages.

One elder of the Lun Indigenous group remarked, “I am grateful for this invitation to participate. It is the first time that I met members of other Indigenous groups and I found not only so many similarities in our traditions, but also in our problems and challenges.”

Bonny Seun, a young Indigenous leader from the Jarai group who coordinated the event, concluded, “This is a historic event for Indigenous people, as it is the first time they have come together under this program to participate, speak and discuss. I hope that there will be lot of awareness created about the situation and plight of the Indigenous people who also have a dream and a future.”



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS) 

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