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About Caritas Cambodia
Caritas Cambodia is an official social development arm of the Catholic Church in Cambodia. It has been built on the values of Love, Concern, Justice, Peace Unity, Sharing and brotherhood. It draws inspiration from the Gospel and aims at integral development of people irrespective of race and creed. Hence the objectives of Caritas Cambodia specifically include the following.

To promote and strengthen activities that are aimed at the integral development of communities particularly to help in Sustainable Agriculture, empowerment program, economic program, Welfare program,
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Valentine, Sarah, Arnaud and Mehdi are some of the volunteers from Kampuchea Sourya Group, a French students’ association who have participated with Caritas’s community development program from July to August 2015. Here they talk about their experiences assisting with the project and explain their personal view on the days with local communities they work with over the last four weeks.
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Valentine volunteers with Caritas’s Siem Reap team
 
Valentine Bouet French, 20 years old
As my first solidarity project and my first trip to Cambodia and Asia, this experience in the Caritas team of Siem Reap has been really amazing. Not only have I learn technical skills working in the fields such as building a pig house, transplanting rice or preparing vegetables cultures, but I have had a whole perspective of what team work can be.

Being with the Caritas staff has allowed me to learn so much about the Cambodian culture and way of life, but has also made me realize a lot about my own country:
so many times we take things for granted when the situation is so different in other countries. I know I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to discover Cambodia sharing the everyday life of its population, it is a chance not everyone can have. And even though we are supposed to be the one helping them, I feel so grateful for the people here because they have taught me more than I could have imagined. Being with the Caritas team has been for me a way to ensure that the energy I have will be given to a sustainable cause which will, in the future, help the country build a strong and developing economy.
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Sarah Gross, 21 years old (left) and her friend volunteer with Caritas’s Kandal team
 
Sarah Gross French, 21 years old
First, thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to experience such a wonderful project.

We are especially excited about sharing the daily lives of Cambodian families, sleeping at their homes, sharing meals with them, playing with children. It is very important for us not only to do work, but also live at the same pace as the population. This difference of lifestyle actually surprised us at the beginning:
in Cambodia people start working very early, however they give credit to a restructuring midday nap which is unusual in western countries. The Caritas projects are very interesting because they tackle problems which the farmers – a huge part of the population – encounter every day. Therefore, by assisting Caritas, we feel that we are involved in projects which will have a real impact, all the more since we are working hand in hand with the farmers.

We really enjoy working for these projects; nonetheless the barrier language prevents us from understanding some instructions and therefore slows us down. We can work harder when there is an English speaker to explain us the work to do.

We were also surprised about how people get rid of their waste. The houses are kept very clean; on the other hand people throw their used water in the river or their papers in the fields. That gave us many problems when we prepared the land for the playground at the CCAMH. We would gladly work with Caritas on this subject if there is any project on it.
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Arnaud Jost, 21 years old volunteers with Caritas’s Battambong team
 
Arnaud Jost French, 21 years old
Our field work was very contrasted between Center 150 and the villages. Center 150 aims at being a model farm. We learnt there how to do compost, grow vegetables and transplant rice in good conditions with the right tools. At the centre, we spent a lot of time repeating skills that weren’t used exactly at the same way in the villages. We slept at the Center; we made English Courses for the students and the staff.
In the villages we saw a lot of people for whom Caritas had dug a pond or inspired themselves from key-farmers to buy chicken and prepare home gardening, for example. So we had no doubt of the projects efficiency and it was a pleasure to be part of it. Work with the villagers was very nice. They were all very smiling and we learnt a lot with them. The intensity of Caritas efforts and the necessity of it by the villagers in Battambang was also a surprise for us because we didn’t imagine their situation.

We loved to work with villagers and to share with them a little of their lives. Especially the last week, we had a great time because we could work with the villagers and the Caritas’ team that went with us. They were very kind and nice making us feel comfortable and useful.

The stunning natural beauty of Cambodia and its fascinating culture are also important points for us and will remain in our memories.
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Mehdi Zouagui, 22 years old (second from right) volunteers with Caritas’s Kampong Thom team
 
Mehdi Zouagui Moroccan, 22 years old
Sousdey !
As I am writing these lines, my team and I are spending our last week in Kampong Thom province at Sopheak Monkul with a local family so we can build a toilet.

This is a concrete example of the actions we are leading with Caritas Cambodia which mainly consist on establishing a physical contact with the villagers in order to support them;
whether in their daily works (through fields work for instance) or in rising new projects (biogas system building, green house projects…). Each time we are warmly welcomed by the families and we always leave them with grateful smiles on their faces. At the end of each project, we get back more and more aware of their needs and deeply pleased by their hospitality.

After more than 4 weeks of work, I can tell clearly about the benefits it brings to the villagers. I would summer it up in the fact of enabling the villagers to adapt and to get more autonomous in the changing –but predictable- world we live in. I am thinking for example about a campaign on sanitation I have joined where a villager told me in Khmer, while getting rid of pieces of plastic: “You give the example and the villagers will follow it.”

Moreover, taking part in Caritas projects offers a wonderful opportunity to build strong links with the staff members. The values of teamwork and experience sharing are always present between us which could be inspiring for the villagers since they notice it!

Once at home, I will talk about this beautiful experience that I had and about all the different and similar people that I met who proved to me that tears and laughs are not only the fruits of pain and false joy.

Our Success Stories

btbcc01   Improved techniques in raising chicken help to promote family’s living
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fvsd137x75   Supporting a disadvantaged mother to have hope and courage through vocational training skill
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