21 February, 2019
Step into the Gap, CAFOD’s gap year programme, is an opportunity to volunteer in the UK, gain experience, and develop leadership skills. The Society of the Holy Child Jesus has been a long time supporter of the programme.
The Step Into the Gap volunteers recently visited their international placements. The group of young volunteers travelled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where they met the Cambodian CAFOD team. They talked about the political situation in Cambodia and gave fascinating insights into the history of the people. They visited the National Museum of Cambodia, the Royal Palace, and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. All of these places gave the volunteers a better understanding of the culture and history of Cambodia.
On Sunday morning, they left the busyness of Phnom Penh and travelled 6 hours to the rural countryside of Veal Veng.
In their last update from Cambodia, the volunteers write:
In the last couple of days we have travelled from Pursat Town to Battambang and now we are in Banteay Meanchey (before we travel to Siem Reap on Friday). In the last few days we have been with KBO- one of CAFOD’s 7 partners in Cambodia and they have showed us what farming is like in Cambodia. We started in the beautiful CROAP centre where Laudato Si’ is so evident. And we met with the team there. We have learnt how to use hand tractors, plant lettuce and cabbage, when is the best time to water aubergine and how important water is in the dry season. At home, we don’t think about turning on a tap but here we have met farmers who are unable to water their crops as the dry season (which started in November to December) has kicked in and water supplies are low.
We have been welcomed by the people we have met and we are honoured that we will be able to share their stories with you and many others on our return.
One person who stood out that we met only yesterday was Monsignor Kike Figaredo, who is the equivalent to the Bishop here and is the reason KBO (a Catholic organisation) exists. He honoured us by spending over and hour and a half with him and reminded us why it is important to work for justice and to keep going even when it gets tough. He is a real life saint. And he has inspired us all.
Read about their journey on their blog.