Cambodia celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) this year from 2nd-4th February 2018 at Samroung, Oddormeanchey Province. Theme for this year was “Protect Forest, Protect Life” to promote Interfaith cooperation on Sustainable Development. This year 2018, our topic on “protect forest, protect life” is relate to what Ven. Bun Saluth, one of the Buddhist monk who activist on environmental movement that struggle to survive the forest in being able to legally protect 18,261 hechares of evergreen forest and able to share to other faiths and forest activist learn from what challenges, experience and how to overcome to the obstacle so far in devote for forest protection. 45 participants from difference faiths of Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim from other provinces, NGOs representative who work relate to faith and NRM and forest activists (Prey Lang), students, youth, officer from Ministry and Department of Religion and Cult join us.
At the first day of the event, we travel from Phnom Penh to Oddormeanchey, on the way we were reflected on the current situation of Cambodia such as: Political, Social, Economic, Labor, Agriculture, Land grabbing, Deforestation, Drug and other relate issues that raise by the participants and try to find out how to get involve in those issues.
The second day, we departure from Samroung town to the Rukawan forest and celebrate the event in the forest. Greeting and sharing the reason why we celebrate this event to participants and the history that ACT in Cambodia started celebrate this event as we working on interfaith and willing to promote with the global is doing and Cambodia is part of this celebration.
Miss. Srey Sotheavy the Executive Director was informed that in Cambodia we celebrate the first WIHW in every 1st week of February in difference areas such as in 2012 in Battambang, 2013 in Siem Reap, 2014 in Phnom Penh Town, 2015 Kampong Chhang 2016 in Kandal Province, 2017 in Oral-KampongSpeu province, and this year 2018 in Samroung-Oddormeanchey province. Sotheavy also share that United Religion Initiative (URI) who had 102 members celebrate this event every year at the first week of February. She also thanks to Danmission and URI who fund for this event to be happened.
Ven Bun Saluth the Monk activist shared experience and challenges from his movement to protect the forest. After that the representative of each faith from Buddhist, Christian, Muslim shared their religious perspective which illustrate that each faith had their willingness to project, love, and care for the nature these were told and teach by their Gods. Question and answer were offered to participants for ask questions.
After lunch in forest we traveled by forest truck to the forest visit the God forest care hut, forest animal life and their places for drinking water, and other forest flooding area with the guiding from the soldier who protect the forest there. Long exposed in the forest about seven hours and the canal visit that monk dig to protect the forest from the grabbing community forest land. Evening we arrived temple we were painting and drawing interfaith community and express each perspective how faiths can live together in harmony in Cambodia and two group divided for dramatic on interfaith communities.
Next day on the 4th February 2018 we had interfaith tree planting and pray for the tree from each faiths to their Gods to protect the forest and environment. And we reflection from the group to this Celebration of Cambodia WIHW with their propose for the next year activities, topic, and other improvement part to the organizer. ACT would like to thanks to Danmission and URI who always fund for interfaith work in Cambodia and thanks to all NGOs, activist, faiths, youth, and other communities who join and support for this event happened.