On April 27th, the Interfaith Peace Building On Natural Resources Management (a.k.a. the Interfaith Network) from Kampot Province, Cambodia, gathered interfaith practitioners for reflection on national resources management and in celebration of the Vesak Day, also known as Buddha Day. Together and with "happy faces," participants planted 150 mangrove trees.
With a total of fifty-five participants, almost half of whom were women, there was a diverse mix of religious, including Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians. The participants came also represented diverse roles in society, including members of government councils, district chiefs, village chiefs, village leaders and other religious leaders, as well as many community members.
During the event, the Interfaith Network shared the history of the interfaith group, including multi-faith perspectives on religion in Kampot Provence and Vesak Day. The Secretary-General at the United Nation's remarks were included in the group's reflection; the day has importance beyond the Buddhist community. The teachings of the Buddha inspire us to become global citizens, enact the Sustainable Development Goals and be powerful voices of peace. And so demonstrating these ethics, the Interfaith Network, introduced the myriad benefits of caring for nature, the environment, and educating children to understand that acting with good care of nature promotes harmony amongst the people, the religions and the generations.
The president of the Department of Cult and Religion in Kampot province, Mr. Khen Dorn, welcomed all participants, and introduced the work of the Interfaith Network in Kampot provence over the past few years.
The recognition of their efforts was well received by Ms. Sotheavy Srey, member of the Interfaith Network, who takes much pride in the work she and her colleagues have been doing to bring the practice of natural resources management and dialogue on environmental issues to the nearby communities:
Yes, we are happy to see brothers and sisters joining together to make this program work out, let us all take care of the mangrove forest planted in the community. In order for the community to be beautiful, the reach of nature to live, and to achieve long-lasting sustainability, we need to take part in protecting our community.
Mr. Kang Von was up next. He's a district Council member, and member of the interfaith group, spoke on the importance of managing the mangrove areas, many of which are flooded. Flooded forests are places where fish, shrimp, birds and other creatures take refuge. Not only are the mangrove tress important, also the ecology of animals and plants that allow the forest to thrive. Mr. Kang Von reflects on the importance of the mangroves for the fishing community:
We, in the fishery community, depend on the flooded forest for raising fish, creating tourists attractions that bring many international and domestic visitors to the province. So let us all take care of the flooded forest to preserve the newly planted mangroves we have sewn today.
Many thanks were bestowed on the Interfaith Network for developing environmental care in their community. Ms. Sotheavy Srey adds:
We are like brothers and sisters in the community, working together for our community and for our next generation. We will continue to protect the flooding forests which is a diverse habitat . To make achievements for the next generations, we will continue to cooperation with the local authorities to prevent the destruction of the flooded jungle and protect the interests of the community.
The multi-sector partnerships that emerged during this event are the basis for supporting each other in taking care of the mangroves and all animal and human life.
All participants were reminded to think of the long-term benefits of the mangrove forest, and the importance of taking care of the mangroves in the Khos Toch community. With that, to also make strong commitments to cooperation within the community in order to sustain life on earth.
Invited government officials were very impressed by the interfaith event and tree planting, so impressed that Mr. Pal Sambo of the district government, committed to protect the mangrove forest and the animals living there. Another government councilor, addressed the community in a closing remark:
Let the community here help each other to take care of the flooded mangrove forest for the future. Let's all join the mangroves today. Love for the forest is love for life.