The CACD retreat gave many of the church and NGO workers the opportunity to see some of the projects started by Bishop Olivier. One of them is CoCo de Takeo, a social enterprise which makes candy and useful and decorative objects from coconuts–of which Cambodia has an abundance!
There is not much of visible Chinese Catholic community in Cambodia but there is a huge Vietnamese Catholic community. Yesterday Bishop Olivier celebrated the Sunday mass on New Year’s Day with one Vietnamese parish. Here he is on his way to mass with them.
As part of the CACD retreat (Catholic Alliance for Charity and Development), we visited a social enterprise center where Bishop Olivier has created basically cottage industries to give employment mainly to people with disabilities and poor women who have no source of income and no possibility of jobs like in the city.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve for the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit and many people in Cambodia are preparing for the celebration. The Lunar New Year is not an official holiday in Cambodia but many, many people claim some Chinese ancestry and take two or three days off to celebrate. There were signs of preparation along the streets of Phnom Penh this week.
No need to worry about checks and balances and separation of powers and messy things like the rule of law in Cambodia. Everyone should just do what the prime minister says.
Today is the first day of the annual three-day Water Festival. It is held in November, at the end of the rainy season, when the Tonle Sap River reverses its flow and starts to empty water out of the Tonle Sap Lake at Siem Reap. There are normally boat races in Phnom Penh with hundreds of boats and tens of thousands of paddlers.
This year, though, the boat races have been canceled because ASEAN is having its annual summit meeting in Phnom Penh and the government decided it would not be wise to try and organize high-level government delegations (President Biden is coming) and a million-plus Water Festival revelers at the same time. We still have the three days off but there are no boat races to watch.