Salesian Sisters in Cambodia have been distributing food materials and cooked meals to those affected by the Covid pandemic packed in banana leaves. The nuns inspired both volunteers and the food recipients to care for the environment and minimize the use of plastic.
The Salesian nuns run a school in Teuk Thla, four kilometers south of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The teachers and students are actively involved in reaching out with aid to the poor.
“The poor suffer hunger more than the effects of covid,” said Sister Jessica Salvana, co-ordinator of the school program.
The nuns provide rice, oil, canned fish, noodles, sauce, milk packs, and biscuits to 500 needy families.
Families of rag pickers, construction workers, factory employees, and those who used to earn just enough to survive are now struggling to feed their families.
The nuns provide 350 meals packed in banana leaves for the families of the poor.
“We wrap the food in banana leaves as an expression of our care for the environment. Even during the pandemic, we wanted to foster environmental concerns and care for our common home,” Sr. Salvana said.
“We are trying to sensitize the poor about the values of environmental conservation,” the nun said.
Kaing Sothy, a social worker and teacher, motivates students to be conscious of environmental issues by reducing the use of plastics, ensuring cleanliness and hygiene, and loving and caring for their families.
Citing the example of meals packed in banana leaves, she encourages students and families to minimize the use of plastic in marketing or other purposes.
A rag-picking grandmother who received the meal packets regularly said, “now I understand the damage done by throwing away plastic. Our place is full of it and drainages are blocked and emit a foul smell. We will work together to collect and dispose them and also make every effort to reduce our daily use of plastics.”
Seam Phearom, a mother of five children, said, “We love our children, and we must do it for their sake. We need health and a good environment for ourselves, so we need collaboration.”
The nuns have been overwhelmed by the response of the poor.
Though authorities impose many restrictions due to the pandemic, the nuns continue to reach out to the needy while fostering and promoting a better environment.
“Food and commitment to living the values of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si go hand in hand,” said Sr. Salvana. – Ophriini Lohrii, RVA News