About 40 people gathered yesterday at Prek Leap, ‘The Left Bank’ to pray for peace for Gaza, Palestine. Mostly young women, we met, introduced, discussed, and shared stories with an enormous aim to pray for the victims and call for peace in Gaza, sought deeper understanding of how war has an impact on each one of us and what we could do as a person to bring peace the world.
The activity was circulated via social media such as Facebook page and email list to spread message to invite people to come and show solidarity; they could bring along friends and families. The event took place between 4pm to 7pm. Some individual volunteered to come early to help prepare the lantern. These lanterns were made from banana trees with leaves, flowers, and candle decorated. Each lantern was to be lighted up and floated on the Mekong River at the end of the session.
There were photos exhibition displayed at a corner of the venue. There are two sections of the exhibition. The first part displayed the photos showing the war legacy; this section has four categories of photos. The first category showed the US bombing on Cambodian territory. The second category was pictures about the Khmer Rouge regime. The third group of photos told the suffering of the Vietnam War and the fourth section represented the current war zone in Gaza and severe damage and suffering of Palestinian people. By agonizingly seeing those photos, we could tell how hard those wars have affected on individual, families, community and nation as a whole even for the onlookers who have never been through war experience.
The second part of the photos exhibition displayed recently taken photos of individual and groups who hold messages calling for the end of the war and occupation of Gaza; end the massacre on innocent and powerless people; and peace for Gaza. These photos will later be collated into a video for wider circulation.
All people who come to join the event were invited to sit around on a green tent sharing what we have known so far about the killing at the occupied Gaza. The dead ruined bodies of innocent children, women, and men broke our heart. As majority of participants are the generation born after the Genocide regime in Cambodia ourselves, we could perhaps feel the pain of the civilians and connects to those experiences that people in Gaza is going through every minute of the day. It was felt that many people who sat around the circle tried hard to hold tears at some point during the sharing of experiences.
Next, we listened to a unique life story from a Khmer Rouge survivor; a well-known peace maker, Madam Prok Vanny, shared about life under the Khmer Rouge. Moreover, a few young people also shared about how the war and period of internal civil instability in Cambodia in 1980s have affected them. We have learned a great deal that though young people did not go through any war they somehow are still experiencing the impacts of war from how their parents treat them.
The next program, we went for picking up our lovely, spiritual, and peaceful candle lanterns which were made by some local artistic volunteers. The lanterns of course cost $2 each but the money collected would go to the Social Work Department’s poor students. How wise to spend little money for 2 big causes: peace for the Middle East/Gaza and help poor social work students at the same time.
The procession of the people holding the lanterns were accompanied by the chanting of a poem by a pure mindful beloved American young man who fluently chanted in Khmer and Pali. We stood behind him and concentrated so that our minds are pure to make a powerful and purest wish for the peace to prevail.
Then, it was the lantern floating time. We took turn to give our lanterns to let them sway around the water.
Then was the end of the gathering for peace for the Gaza. It was a lovely time to get to know many young women and men with already broken heart yet doing some best amazing things to a region who desperately needs our pray and kind support by any means.
Let’s us be with you spiritually, Gaza!!! May peace prevails over Gaza.
Note: kindly edited by Socheata Sim