Mother Yvonne in Cambodia
Mother Yvonne in Cambodia
Phnom Penh ( Cambodia ). On February 19, Mother Yvonne arrived in Cambodia , where she was welcomed by the Sisters of the Province of Mary Our Help
(CMY) which includes Cambodia and Myanmar, and by about a thousand young people from the three FMA schools of Teuk Thla, Tuol Kork and Phom Chreh.
Mother Yvonne, immediately expressed her joy at being with them and said: “I am so happy that I feel like staying here. Would you have me?». And the children responded enthusiastically with a resounding “YES”.
The welcome message centred on the idea of being one big family. Mother Yvonne, who really appreciated both the content of the show and the way everyone participated, left four important points for reflection: to be friends with everyone and help each other; to believe that God loves us and that Mary accompanies us.
Mother Yvonne then agreed to be interviewed by a past pupil of the Secretarial Course in the house of Tuol Kork which is now integrated into the communications sector of the diocese of Phnom Penh . Mother Yvonne responded to two questions in particular: one on the purpose of her visit and one on the future plans for the presence of the FMA in Cambodia .
«I came here, she said, to get to know the Sisters, the young people and our co-workers here in Cambodia . In a family we need to know one another. I want to see our communities in the social and cultural context in which they work». And she continued: «I hope that we can further develop education in our schools bringing them up Senior School level. I believe that our past pupils can collaborate with us especially in the area of professional formation, in searching out new needs within the labour marked and in finding jobs ».
In the evening Mother Yvonne greeted civil and religious authorities, the representatives of various Non-Governmental Organisations, lay collaborators and friends of the FMA. All, in their comments, expressed their esteem for the FMA presence in Cambodia and for the Salesian charism.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Phnom Penh , Monsignor Olivier Schmitthaeusler, recalled an episode of some years back, when a request made to the Sisters to open more schools was met with the response that there were not enough Sisters. He had insisted, saying: “1 school-1 Sister is more than enough!”. On that occasion Sr. Sarah Garcia, the then Provincial had tried to make him understand that our way of educating is a bit different. It requires an accompaniment that puts the person at the centre and does not just create an institution. Now, some years later, the Bishop recognised the truth of Sr. Sara's response and after praising the work of the FMA he spoke clearly of how the Church in Cambodia is lucky to have the schools of the FMA where the girls receive an integral formation, re-discover their dignity, are loved and feel loved and are prepared to integrate themselves as active members in society. In conclusion, he said: «I hope that more schools can be opened in the future to help Cambodia . We ask God for more local vocations and you, Mother Yvonne, for more Sisters for this country».
The representative of the Ministry for Education, Mr. Cia Ciat, in his turn, continued on the same line. He recognised that the Public School is not able to reach the poor and that instruction still remains the privilege of the few. He spoke very enthusiastically and highlighted how the FMA schools are really for the poor and the method used is greatly appreciated by the Minister: «Children without hope, he said, find hope in this school. Those who study in your school are really fortunate». And he concluded by saying «In the name of the Minister for Employment and Professional Formation I thank you and I ask you to continue to help us».
Mother Yvonne listened and finished with a greeting that left everyone contented and amazed at the clarity and simplicity with which she speaks. She thanked those present, because their collaboration is necessary and important for the continuation of our work. She stressed how education is fundamental and must be given absolute priority in every society. With great firmness she stated: «We must pay attention to all aspects of the person, the human and the spiritual. Human fulfilment is founded on love. Our educational system cannot do without three elements: Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness ».
In conclusion, Mother Yvonne said: «The world needs Hope. Don Bosco hoped throughout his life. We must give hope to the world. May Mary help us to bring hope».