Over 140 teenagers from the nine pastoral districts of Phnom Penh Vicariate in Cambodia attended a camp to learn how to care for the environment.
Participants, who were aged 13 to 18, attended the camp at the Vine Phnom Vor resort in Kep province (south of Cambodia, about 90 km from the city) on October 7-9.
The children, teenagers, youth and families office of Phnom Penh Vicariate organized the event on the theme "Environment is life."
Ms. Nouv Maline, the person in charge of the teenagers' department, said that this gathering focused on the value of the environment and God’s creation.
"We want the teenagers to love the environment and experience of staying in the mountains or sleeping in tents with different atmospheres away from their homes. Most importantly, they will understand God better through prayer and worship," she said.
Most teenagers are Buddhists. Some attend catechism classes and some join the scout activities of the church.
During the two-day camp, all the teens learned about the environment and its importance, as well as how to take good care of it, introduced by Ms. Panh Chanda from Jesuit Services Cambodia.
She spoke on water, air, and garbage pollution, deforestation, and how to use natural resources responsibly and control human behaviors’ impact on the environment.
Participants said they found the exposure useful.
Uy Kim Long, a 14-year-old catechism student in the Kampong Ampil Catholic community in Takeo province, said that this is the first time he has come to participate in this program.
After understanding the environment, Kim Long understands that "the environment is important to provide oxygen and shelter for animals and people. The disorderly dumping of garbage makes the environment unattractive and is harmful to health."
Ngov Chhayee from Saint Joseph Kirivong Church described, "Without the environment, we would not be alive today."
"We live on this earth, and we have to take care of the environment, not only for the present generation but also for the next," Chhayee added.
Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, the apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, hopes that during these days, teens and children will be awakened to a new relationship with their environment and with people around them like family and God when they become adults.
"When we talk about the environment, we are not just talking about trees and flowers, but all the relationships we have in the world," he said.
Bishop Olivier added that relationships with parents, schools, friends, and society, especially with God, are important and needed.
He added, "We need to respect each other, our parents, siblings, religion, and God, who guides us to be a peaceful family on earth."
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