Hugh Cafferky is our Step into the Gap volunteer based at St Cassian’s retreat centre in Kintbury Berkshire. He reflects on is recent trip to visit CAFOD projects in Cambodia..
“Since returning to the UK from Cambodia, life has significantly changed and a new reality has been evolving. I seemed to have gone from one reality to another and it is in this instance that time seems to be standing still. I feel so close and connected to my experiences in Cambodia more than ever. During this time of uncertainty, we may be finding it extremely hard and are having have our own reality checks and culture shocks as we aren’t able to do simple things like we could before.
It has become clearer to me that we are one world, that we are waking up more and more to our common home and that we must be stewards and care for the earth. For me, it shows that we are guests on the earth, our home is our responsibility and we all have a role to play.
It only feels like yesterday I was in Cambodia, I look back and know that I was fortunate to go at the time I did, to visit CAFOD partners, COCD (Cambodian Organisation for Children and Development) and KBO (Karuna Battambang Organization). I know that the partners’ projects and programmes that CAFOD supports are incredibly vital even in this unprecedented time. Upon reflection, when getting involved in WASH projects with children in Tam Por Primary School in the Pursat province, personal hygiene such as simply washing your hands which has become an even more frequent ritual, are a crucial life skill but in the current situation it has a gravity that puts so many things into perspective, these projects are lifesaving and has been in the forefront of my mind.
Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’’ has become unbelievable evident to me in so many different ways not only overseas at KBO’s wonderful CROAP centre but also here in the UK. In Cambodia I was blessed to visit communities’ farms, to experience their ways of sustainable agriculture, their unique ways of farming, looking after their livestock and their plants and vegetables, their stewardship and sufficiency in order to care for their families. This inspires me. I was also able to help the farmers in their routines in planting, watering and making compost, necessary for their lives and their loved ones. At this time, it feels like a paradox at St. Cassian’s to be able to go outside and help garden with one of the De La Salle brothers, to help plant but in a completely different way. I notice the fragility of life, now and in Cambodia. I am anxious and worried for the communities and CAFOD partners that I had the privilege to meet. However, CAFOD and putting our faith into action gives me hope in this time of hardship and doubt, as it gives life to our brothers and sisters. Echoing the words of Pope Francis, that during this storm, it is ‘uncovering once more that common belonging, of which cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.’
In this time of separation, isolation and being physically apart from our communities may we remain ever united and together as one global community. Yet this a new reality for us, may we draw close to each other, guide one another, bring light, kindness and love to those we know and those on our online community. Let us not forget the needs of our world. Change is a powerful thing and, we know that there is hope and life. Let us keep awakening, searching and reviving our faith, our humanity and our common home.