Connect2: Cambodia – Celebrating Ancestor Day


Dara and his mother outside the Pagoda in Sen Sok

Last month the Connect2: Cambodia community in Samrong Mean Chey, along with other Cambodians across the country celebrated Kan Ben and Pchum Ben Festival. This festival, which is celebrated from generation to generation, is the most important traditional festival in Cambodia’s religious calendar. The ceremony from 9 – 22 September 2014 is called Kan Ben and the last day of the festival, 23 September 2014, is called Pchum Ben.

Each year, throughout the country, Cambodians are given 3 days off during the festival. This is to allow them time to travel to their hometowns, to go to pagodas (temples) where they offer food to monks, and dedicate this to their relatives who have passed away. The offering of food is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. Pagodas are usually crowded with people taking their turn to make offerings, and monks praying. After presenting their offerings, many people remain in the temple to listen to Buddhist sermons.

In Samrong Mean Chey, the Connect2 community also take part in these celebrations, and go to pagodas to offer the monks food and other gifts. On Pchum Ben Day, Dara, (pictured with his mother), explains that his whole family got up very early in the morning; together they cooked rice and food and then went to Khmuonh and Sen Sok Pagoda to offer the monks food, and incense.

Speaking about the festival, Dara says:

“Kan Ben and Pchum Ben is the practice of Cambodian traditional customs. These customs and traditions make Cambodia a distinct nation in the world”.  

For more information about Connect2: Cambodia and to how your parish can sign up, visit:

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Filed under CAFOD, Cambodia, Connect2, Connect2Cambodia

Harvest in Sebeya

Sebeya - New Year

In the last update from Sebeya, we heard there was shortage of rain, and the community were praying for rain. Abba Solomon asked for parishes in England and Wales to pray for rain in Sebeya. “God heard our prayer and gave us rain”, says Abba Solomon And I have to thank all brothers and sisters who kept us in your prayers. We always remember you in our prayers.”

Though the rain was late, it arrived and helped the farmers to prepare land and plant different crops.  We were desperate when the rain was too late. God forgave our trespasses and gave us rain. Thanks to God, Sebeya is now green. We expect good harvest this season. It gave us a big hope.”

Since then, the rain distribution and volume has been even better than last year. Sebeya looks greener and farmlands are growing wheat, barley and sorghum (a grain). The crops are bearing fruits and only the wheat plants require a little more rain.

There were further celebrations in Sebeya, and the rest of Ethiopia as the community welcomed in the New Year on the 12 September 2014. Ethiopia’s calendar is seven years behind the rest of the world, so it is now 2007 in Ethiopia. Abba Solomon shares the events that took place in Sebeya:

“At the eve of the New Year, men and young people gathered outside our Sebeya Catholic Church and everyone brought a torch – made of dry sticks and foliage. We prayed together and lit our torches  and walked around the Church. We then came together and made a bonfire. It was a dark evening when we sat together around the bonfire and had bread and tell, a local drink (made of barley and water). The bonfire symbolises leaping from the old, dark year to new and bright year.  On the morning of the New Year, we made coffee and had chicken sauce and injera (a sourdough flatbread) with our neighbours”.  

For more information about Connect2, and how your parish can sign up, visit:




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Filed under CAFOD, Connect2, Connect2Ethiopia, Ethiopia

My plastic bag cupboard

In honour of One World Week, Campaign Officer Sarah Croft tells us about the lifestyle changes she is trying to implement and the motivation she gets from knowing that she is not alone in her efforts.

One World Week logo

One World Week logo

My plastic bag cupboard is overflowing. There are bags stuffed within bags, within even more bags, crammed into every inch of space.

My plastic bag cupboard only really gets visited after trips to the supermarket or shops. It is carefully opened to stop the cascade and quickly shut after more cramming.

My plastic bag cupboard is a signal of my good intentions; I feel guilty about throwing them away. I know they should be reused and I know I should take my rucksack instead.

Today is the start of One World Week. Around the country local community groups, religious and voluntary organisations, churches, inter-faith groups, environmentalists, youth groups, schools, universities and campaigners will be coming together to discuss living differently. How can we make changes now to secure a fairer, more satisfying life for everyone, while protecting the planet for future generations?

Get inspired by the ideas of others and get involved>>

Whether it is having a car-free day every week, taking a staycation, cycling, walking to church, switching lights off, cutting down on energy use, or in my case trying to re-use bags it involves a change to our normal routine. This is a challenge.

My plastic bag cupboard is overflowing because all too often I forget. I make excuses and my plastic bag cupboard just gets filled up until my housemates get too frustrated and throw them away.

My message this One World Week is don’t give up.

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Filed under CAFOD, Campaigning, Climate Change, UK

Sierra Leone inspired Friday supper

CAFOD supporter, Julia Corcoran, is currently studying for a Masters in Development at the University of Aberystwyth. Earlier this year she travelled to Sierra Leone as part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme. Here she tests a recipe from our Friday Suppers cookbook.

Julia Corcoran on a recent trip to Sierra Leone with CAFOD

Julia Corcoran on a trip to Sierra Leone with CAFOD

As a student I have a busy schedule, so when I cook I want something fast, easy and relatively cheap. Normally on a Friday – when I’m avoiding eating meat – I struggle to find something to fit the bill that isn’t fish and chips. So, I was thrilled to see when my copy of CAFOD’s new Friday Suppers cookbook arrived that it was full of tasty meat-free meals. The mushroom risotto with goats’ cheese and thyme (recipe below) really caught my eye.

Find out more about our Friday Suppers recipe book >>>

Earlier this year, I took part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme, and spent a month in Sierra Leone, where rice is a staple food. A meal without rice in Sierra Leone is not a meal – even if it’s breakfast!

Julia and the other Gappers harvesting rice in Sierra Leone

Julia and the other Gappers harvesting rice in Sierra Leone

We stayed for a few days in a community near the city Makeni where they showed us how to harvest rice. The rice fields were vast, and the people we met worked all day harvesting the rice so that in the dry season there would be enough food to eat. We had a go at harvesting the rice – of course we were pretty terrible at it! The experience made me realise how much effort goes into producing the food I eat.

Find out about our work in Sierra Leone >>>

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Filed under CAFOD, fundraising, Sierra Leone

Who is my neighbour?

By Augusto Zampini Davies – RC priest, moral theologian and theological adviser to CAFOD.

Aroti, Bangladesh, CAFOD

On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, while visiting development projects supported by CAFOD and our partners, I was able to grasp the real impact environmental harm has upon people who are poor. In this case the problem was the over-use of agrochemicals, which is indirectly killing many children of Dambulla. I am sure any of you, in any place in the world, can bring more examples about the harm we are inflicting on the Earth and its inhabitants. But what can we do about it?

Play your part in tackling climate change >>

Our One Climate, One World campaign raises awareness of the pivotal role Christians have in caring for and healing the environment, and how this can help improve the wellbeing of many people worldwide, especially those living in poverty.

Call to safeguard Creation

This is an opportunity to respond to Pope Francis’ call to protect the vulnerable and safeguard Creation. In the General Audience on 21 May, the Pope warned us that mistreating the environment, or ignoring the fact that it is being seriously damaged, is a sin, because “we destroy the sign of God’s love for us. In destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?” Conversely, protecting and healing the environment is like saying to God: “Thank you. I am the guardian of creation so as to make it progress, never to destroy your gift.” Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD, Campaigning, Climate Change