Five months have passed since 2010 Missionaries were sent to the mission areas. Some of them are attending the language course and some have already started their activities. Following articles are the digest of their reports sent to us.
Ms.Yui Fukahori (Yuigahama Church, Yokohama Diocese)
I had left Lospalos and attended language course in Dili for three weeks since 10th January. Learning foreign language is tough, but I am encouraged by the idea that the language will be my new weapon to communicate with more people. When I was attending the language school, I met nice East Timorese who listened to my poor Tetum carefully while others ignored me. I think I have become mentally stronger. During the last one month I met teachers, became friends with my classmates and enjoyed talking with the security guard of my house. I have come across with these people and many others and I am grateful for these meetings.
DIT (Dili Institute of Technology) is a college for Timor students. They study science, technology and commerce as well as English. At the same time the school conducts the course in Tetum by East Timorese using English as medium for foreigners in East Timor. I attended the course for three weeks. Actually the course duration is one week and some fast learners complete the course in one week and leave the school. I took Tetum course and talked with classmates in English. I was rather shy for my poor English than my Tetum. I always felt sorry about my poor English and regretted not to have studied English hard when I was a student in Japan. I was so ashamed that I could not open my mouth. Then I tried to communicate with my eyes and smile with shyness. I also felt ashamed of the attitude. But I realized that the keenness to talk is important. People must listen to you even if you feel shy or you make mistakes in grammar or words as long as you understand others heart to heart.
In the case that we cannot communicate with words, we feel especially happy when we understand each other through the hearts. Not the words but the existence of the person can save us. No the language but the idea of each person wishing to communicate with others through the hearts is important. I thought so duirng the month.
Mr. Takeshi Ono Motoderakoji (Church, Sendai Diocese)
I had an opportunity to visit the school for the hearing-impaired by Maryknoll in Phnom Penh on 29th April. It is located at 10 minutes' walk from our house. Fr. Charlie, the person in charge of the facility, explained about the school enthusiastically to me. He said, "There were no words, no school and no organization for them in Cambodia before."
One million and four hundreds of people, ten percent of the Cambodian population, were hearing-impaired and five hundred thousands of them were seriously impaired. They had to use whole body and put words which could not be heard to make themselves understood but their efforts were vain and they got frustrated.
Fr. Charlie set up the school with the support by Finland Association which had connections with the groups of hearing-impaired people in poor countries and underdeveloped countries in Asia an Africa.
The students study for two years to become able to communicate with sign language based on the rules. There is a staff group making a dictionary of sign language and also staff consulting on the lives of the students. When we walked in a classroom, the students talked to us, "Hello. Where did you come from?" and asked me, "How old are you?" They spoke to us so naturally that I realized the language as the fundamental function of human. Suddenly I imagined the situation that I could not speak Khmer in Cambodia. Then I got aware of the importance of telling our thoughts to each other when we live with others.
I thought that their social lives would be smoother if the family members and people in the working place of the hearing-impaired learn the sign language. I am struggling to study the Khmer now. By visiting the school this time I was encouraged to communicate with Cambodian people heart to heart.
Ms. Sakiko Ishida (Seijo Church, Tokyo Archdiocese)
Year of the Rabbit started on 14th April in Cambodia. This was the third New Year here. The first one was the international one, the second Chinese and Vietnamese and this time Khmer. I am afraid of getting old very fast. They say that there are a lot of holidays in Cambodia. The New Year holiday lasts for nearly one week. Many workers and students are from countryside and they go back to their home town. I was wondering how I would spend my holidays. Then a girl who often helps me studying Khmer invited me to her home. It is in Kampot and takes about two to three hours by car from Phnom Penh. I stayed four nights there, though I had indented two nights, and fully enjoyed staying at her home.
In fact I had expected to demonstrate the effect of my Khmer study in the trip. The pronunciation over there is, however, different from what I learned. The accent of Japanese varies depending on the regions in Japan, too. As I was used to the Khmer which my teacher spoke slowly, I could not catch what the local people talked. Foreigners were not familiar to them, either. They did not understand my Khmer and I got frustrated. But! I coped with the situation by smile and body language which are the international languages. Sometimes I misunderstood and got shy when I could not understand their jokes. We became used to the language of each other slowly and I was very happy when I could converse with them. They taught me a lot of words for daily use.
They said, "Come again." and I happily took bus to Phnom Penh. Though there are electricity, water and foods, it is very hot with no wind in the concrete house in Phnom Penh. I missed the country life for a while. I have what they do not have and do not have they have. Each of us has own life style and difficulties. In the trip I realized that there are many things for me to learn beyond the differences.
Mr. Masahiro Aizawa (Akitsu Church, Tokyo Arcdiocese)
I went to the floating village in Kompong Luong three times in March and April abd had good experiences there. I will hardly have an opportunity to go there once my mission starts. To get the dock we leave the town on the land and drive down a dusty red dirt road which will be the bottom of the lake during the rain season. After the long driving, we take a boat to the floating village. I feel the village is separated very far from the land world where I live.
In the floating village most of the products for daily use are available and the life looks easier than in a remote countryside on the land. But they need boats to move and the prices are higher as the goods are sent from the lands. In addition there are problems of drain, waste discharge and so on. It is, however, same on the land. As a matter of fact the life is tougher as houses need care so as not to sink. You cannot sleep on the street like in town when you loose your house. The other day I saw a house which had sunk and was supported by bars. A man whom I met in other place said, "My house sank and I live with my relatives. Please help."
Most of the Vietnamese in the floating village are unregistered or without permit by Cambodian government and not allowed to walk freely on the land. They will be in a big problem once a trouble occurs and it cannot be solved in the village.
The floating village had closed during the Pol Pot era and after that it resurged. Maybe it is because many people need it as a place to live no matter whether they truly wish it or not. Seeing the people living here, I think that the human is strong and can live at any place.
I write about what I experienced in the floating village when I went there during the Khmer New year. About ten young people in the village and I decided to visit a temple on the land for New Year worship. People of their generation speak both Vietnamese and Khmer and become better at Khmer.
In the temple which we visited first people were playing games such as running competition with the both legs of each runner in a bag and watermelon-splitting-like game of hitting a hanged pot with their eyes closed. The youths from the floating village joined them positively there and in the second temple they talked to Cambodian youths and children and started to play with them.
It was a very natural scene with no conscious of differences between "on the water and land", "Vietnamese and Cambodian", "Christian and Buddhist" and so on.
When I saw the scene, I thought, "Maybe changes are going on and they can overcome various challenges lying among them."
I do not hope the day of the floating village's closing will come. In many places on the earth people live on the water. The floating village which I visited in Brunei is the pace for the people who like the life on the water.
How nice if the floating village in Cambodia will become such a place that people live there saying, "The life on the water is good as well as on the land." I hope so as I like.
Mr. Masashi Shinoda (Karasaki Church, Kyoto Diocese)
My first disembarkation to the floating village
I went to the floating village. It is situated at the center of Tonle Sap Lake (a lake of the size as big as Tokyo) and the people there live in houses built on boats or rafts. About one thousand and six hundreds families, six thousands people, live in the village and seventy percent of them are Vietnamese. The language and culture are different from those of Phnom Penh and it looks like a foreign country. It is an unusual and interesting place where houses and churches are floating and the transportation is by boats.
Members of "Shiba-no-kai" which had supported to build a floating park (a raft of open space for children to run and play around) wanted to visit the floating village before Mr. Masaya Takahashi leaves the village. When they came to visit the village, I followed them as I am to take over his mission.
The village people welcomed us. Children sang songs and painted for us. We took meal with them and in the evening we enjoyed dance party in the floating park. We travelled around in the village to see various floating things and people fishing there. In the night we brushed our teeth watching stars in the sky and slept in the mosquito net in the church. All of the events were very fresh and I enjoyed two days of my stay very much.
This time I enjoyed as a guest having holidays there but I also found some situations which will be tough for me to cope as a Lay missionary in future. I had heard a lot of good and negative things about the village but after I visited there it becomes real to me to keep my life there.
Archbishop Ikenaga taught us the words "Keep your life there" in the lecture during the Missionaries-sending Mass in last November. "To give up your life for your friend" means "To keep your life for your friend." At that time I said, "I see." But after the trip to the floating village I understand that it is "Keep my life there" to think about the village all the time and stay there for two years no matter how difficult the challenge is.
I think I will go to the village once a month during my language training and take over the activities of Mr. Masaya Takahashi step by step. I also want to take over the meaning of staying in the floating village.
The article "Know more about MDGs Goal 3: 'Promote gender equality and empower women'" which was scheduled to be published in this issue has been rescheduled to be in Vol.142.