Friday, 18 June 2010

Caritas marks 20 years of service in Cambodia

A Caritas worker in Cambodia distributing food aid. Caritas is currently celebrating its 20th year in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ News Media

June 17, 2010

Caritas Cambodia will spend US$16 million over the next five years to help develop communities in the country, its executive director said yesterday while celebrating the agency’s 20th anniversary.

The Catholic Church’s social service arm will continue its work in the community and in disaster relief programs as well as rights-based approaches to gender equality and justice that it has launched over the past two decades, said Kim Ratana.

Ratana addressed 500 people including government officials, Caritas staff and villagers at the June 15 ceremony. Participants, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An, guest of honor at the event, praised Caritas for its work.

The government is grateful to Caritas for its efforts to reduce poverty in the country, with its projects to develop agriculture, education and health care, said An.

Nheuk Savon, a 49-year-old farmer from Siem Reap province, said Caritas has been present in his village since 2002. “We received support to plant rice, rear chickens and grow vegetables. Our living standard has improved,” he said.

“Caritas created … community empowerment programs to encourage poor people to earn a living,” said Monsignor Enrique Figaredo, chairperson of Caritas Cambodia.

“As a result, they have the ability to develop themselves by making products,” said the Jesuit priest who is also apostolic prefect of Battambang.

In 1972, the Catholic Church in Cambodia launched an aid commission to help war victims. This commission took on the name of Caritas Cambodia.

It stopped functioning in April 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took control of the country.

On March 22, 1990, Bishop Emile Destombes, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh , re-established Caritas Cambodia with the help of Caritas Internationalis and Caritas France and in cooperation with the Cambodian government.


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