Building bridges between faiths through planting trees

The first planting tour was held mainly among Catholics during the rainy months of July, August and September in 2013.

June 02 2014, 2:31 PM
Building bridges between faiths through planting trees
Planting trees in Cambodia, an interfaith activity.

The Jesuits in Cambodia are now into their second year of planting trees and plan to expand to other communities in an effort to foster peace and bringing together people of different cultures and beliefs.

The first planting tour was held mainly among Catholics during the rainy months of July, August and September in 2013.

Two ecologically important places have been chosen for this year’s activities – Prey Lang, which is the largest remaining evergreen forest in Cambodia and protected by an organized group of villagers, and the floodplains of Tonle Sap Lake, which is a very productive source of fish and food for millions of Cambodians. 

“Supporting and preserving these sites will help buttress the biodiversity of the area and hopefully benefit many generations to come,” said Father Gabby Lamug-Nanawa, who is part of the Ecology Programme team of Jesuit Service Cambodia.

Father Gabby recounted that most trips last year were made to Catholic communities that held one-week summer camps. Every year, volunteers from Spain come to Cambodian villages to run summer camps together with local youth for young children in the area. The Jesuit Service members joined these summer camps for an afternoon of planting trees with the children, Spanish volunteers and local members of the Catholic community. Children were told about the environment, the value of trees and the benefits they provide.

“During a planting trip to Svay Sisophon in northwest Cambodia in August 2013, we chanced upon university students from Taiwan and mainland China who were there for a joint activity to plant seeds of friendship between themselves and peace between both nations. We joined together to plant native hardwood trees in an empty hectare of church land, helping each other, enjoying the green open space and the laughter of one another, paying no heed to politics or to past grievances,” Father Gabby reflected on how planting trees is planting peace.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations held during the first week of February saw trees-planting activity bringing together people of different faiths.

Sister Denise Coghlan RSM of Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia hosts World Interfaith Harmony Week in Siem Reap, calling Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists together to reflect on love of God, love of neighbour, and love of the good. One of the topics discussed during last year in Siem Reap was caring for the environment. The participants accepted planting trees together and caring for environment as an act of peace and an act of love for neighbour, human or not.

Source: sjapc