Sr. Carmel, MC / Funeral

Sr. Carmel, a Missionary of Charity assigned to Siem Reap, died April 12, the day before the Khmer New Year. We just had her funeral today because there was no one in town to certify her death two weeks ago because they all left to spend the new year in their home provinces.

The funeral was at St. Joseph Church where the Khmer people sit on the floor. Some chairs were brought in for the foreigners.
The Missionaries of Charity offering a blessing for Sr. Carmel.
After the funeral Bishop Olivier gathered with the Missionaries of Charity. The four men with him in the picture are religious brothers of the Missionaries of Charity. They do not wear a distinctive garb as do the sisters.

Earth Day

Some notes about our Earth (from the Morning Brew website):

  • Earth happens to be located in a remote corner of the Milky Way, a location that presents fewer threats, like a huge star devouring us with its gravity. The star we do have nearby, the sun, is stable and the perfect distance away to sustain liquid water (important!).
  • When the sun does send deadly flares our way, they’re not calamitous because the Earth’s core produces a magnetic field that deflects radiation.

Khmer New Year

For all its drive to be a UN-named “moderate income”country and despite all the high-rise buildings and new international airports, Cambodia is still an old-style rural homeland. 85% of the people are farmers and even the city dwellers all went back to their home provinces this week for the Khmer New Year. And there they played the traditional new year games and had the traditional new year dances just like they have for centuries. In that regard, not much has changed. [Photos are from the Khmer Times.]

This is a game similar to duck-duck-goose. Can you imagine your neighborhood getting together for a game like this on January 1st? Can you even imagine your neighbors getting together?
A tug-0-war is a traditional new year game!
And so is the Cambodian version of the pinata.

Deaf Leadership Training Program

The Finnish Association of the Deaf is a funder of the Caritas Deaf Development Programme, and they are giving priority to the development of a national association of the deaf for Cambodia. They have shifted funding to that and have engaged Colin Allen, a deaf organizations expert, to guide the establishment of an association.

Colin will train four deaf people in organizational knowledge and skills and then they will carry forward the actual erection of the deaf association. Today Colin had his first meeting with them and Sau Soknym, DDP director, began an orientation with them.

Khmer New Year

Today was the last day of the Khmer New Year holiday, an extra day added to the official three days because they fell on a weekend. I was surprised that almost everything remained closed.

This is the ABA bank which is probably the most used bank in Cambodia because they so aggressively got stores to accept smartphone payments. Every place you go has an ABA QR code on display. I went by this branch today just to check to see if they were open because they are a bit different from other banks. They don’t keep banking hours! They are open 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM six days a week! Unheard of, in my experience! (Note table with red cover holding food and drink offerings for the spirits on this holiday.)

Khmer New Year

As with any major national celebration in any country, the Khmer New Year has several practices and rituals that are considered part of the event. One practice in Cambodia for the new year is the erecting of some sort of traditional rural display that harkens back to the kingdom’s ancient roots.

This financial institution has a rather prominent display outside their main office. Featured items are traditional music instruments, fish traps, straw hats, wooden tools.
Outside a resort hotel in Phnom Penh is this display focused on hats worn by field workers and different types of woven baskets.
The girls vocational school where I have mass on Monday mornings went for a scaled-down display with just a few sections of the knotted palm branches that are used to make roofs.

Khmer New Year

Probably two thirds or three fourths of Phnom Penh’s population leaves the city for the Khmer New Year celebrations which take place in the family home in the provinces. But the new year is also a time for foreigners to visit Cambodia and experience the special celebrations.

This year we were blessed by a return visit by Ronise Barreras who worked at DDP about fifteen years ago when we created a new job position. We wanted our students to have more than just an academic experience and Ronise came to help expose our students to new ideas and activities to broaden their understanding of the world and themselves.

Colin Allen (blue shirt) worked at DDP just before Ronise and they had met online but today was the first time we all met together in person along with Darren, Ronise’s husband. We had a delightful hour or two before I had to leave, catching up and just learning about each other’s lives fifteen or twenty years later.