Home News Salesians hold 3rd IP ‘Voices Project’ in Cambodia

Salesians hold 3rd IP ‘Voices Project’ in Cambodia

Environmental stewardship and the preservation of Indigenous identity took center stage in the discussions among Indigenous Peoples groups during a gathering held in Cambodia.

Delegates from eight Indigenous communities gathered for a two-day conference titled ‘Voices of Young Indigenous Peoples,’ hosted by the Salesians of Don Bosco at Don Bosco Technical School in Kep province on Jan. 27 and 28.

“This gathering provides us with an opportunity to exchange thoughts on diverse issues impacting Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia,” said Ms. Chouy Preav of the Kroeng Indigenous group. 

Preav also said the meeting served as “a platform for young Indigenous individuals to voice their perspectives and engage in meaningful interactions with elders from different minority groups”. 

The meeting marked the third installment of the ‘Voices Project’ initiated by the Salesians. It commenced in India in July 2023 and was succeeded by a gathering of minority groups in Thailand in September of the same year.

Fr. Albeiro Rodas, rector of Don Bosco Technical School Kep, said the meeting of different minority groups in Cambodia “aims to provide a venue for the Indigenous Peoples to unify their voices”. 

“We want to hear the Indigenous voices and amplify them for the world to hear, not just in Cambodia. It is our responsibility, as a Catholic community, to provide them the platform to be heard,” the priest said. 

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Throughout the dialogues, delegates shared their insights on safeguarding their Indigenous identity, particularly addressing the imminent threat faced by Indigenous languages on the brink of extinction.

Jarai tribal leader Ting Dem expressed concerns about defending ancestral lands against development aggression, environmental plunder, and other illegal activities.

“We would require the assistance of young people and other communities to safeguard our territories,” he remarked, emphasizing that the Jarai people are open to utilizing modern-day technology to protect their ancestral lands.

Fr. Harris Pakkam, director of the Salesian News Agency, said the congregation’s ‘Voices Project’ aims “to listen to the unheard and silent cries” of the Indigenous peoples, especially the youth. 

“This project is a reaffirmation of our commitment to journey with the Indigenous Peoples, protect the Indigenous knowledge and tradition, and empower them,” he said. 

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