The Friends of Cambodia are a parish group, open to all, who provide information about the two parishes in Cambodia St Mary’s parish is twinned with namely Our Lady of the Assumption parish, Battambang and the parish of St Therese of the child Jesus, Chomnaom, and our links to the Tep Im centre, a student hostel located near the Battambang presbytery.
The group meets a few times a year and helps us to keep in touch with news from Cambodia and projects we are supporting.
New Book about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge by our parishioner Marie-Madeleine Kenning.
Marie-Madeleine from Friends of Cambodia has published a book with some of the eye-witness accounts of people’s experience in Cambodia during the terrifying years under the Khmer Rouge regime. This book is available directly from Marie Madeleine, will be delivered to your address towards the end of June and does not need to be paid for immediately.
All you have to do to reserve a copy of the book is to email your interest to Marie-Madeleine (details below). When emailing please include your delivery address and contact details.
It is important to note that ALL profits go directly to Friends of Cambodia and therefore 100% of that goes directly to the people in Cambodia.
A sample extract of the The beginning of Chapter 2 can be found below.
Title: Then The Khmer Rouge Came: Survivors' Stories from Northwest Cambodia
Cost: £14.99 (no money needed now)
Outline: The book is a memoir of first hand accounts of the impact of the Khmer Rouge on the lives of some of the people in our twinned parishes. It is based on our annual visits to Cambodia and gives a taste of what it is like to build a relationship with people so far away who are both very different from you and yet very similar. And then, after a few years, to discover with horror as you talk to them in some depth what they had to endure under Pol Pot.
Contact details: To use for pre-orders: mariemadeleinekenn
Expected date of publication: end of June 2020
Our Lady of the Assumption parish, Battambang
Known as Pet Yiey Chee, or the Hospital of the Grandmother Nuns, because of the presence of a hospital run by nuns in the grounds of the current compound before the Pol Pot era, Battambang parish numbers around 1000 Catholics. Our Lady of the Assumption is both a parish church and the mother church of the Battambang prefecture (or diocese), led by Enrique Figaredo, a Spanish Jesuit missionary. The current parish priest is Fr Manoj, a Jesuit priest from India.
Click this link for a video message from Fr Manoj
St Therese of the child Jesus, Chomnaom
Chomnaom is a small village in Banteay Meanchey province some 50 kilometres from Battambang. The main source of livelihood is rice farming. In recent years many people have gone to seek employment in Thailand, leaving their children with grandparents. The village has had electricity since 2012, but there is no piped water and sanitation facilities are often inadequate. Water for drinking comes from huge jars of collected rainwater and has to be boiled; water for washing comes from the river or a pond. There is no public transport. People walk or get around on bicycles or mopeds.
The parish of St Therese of the child Jesus is the second oldest parish in the Battambang Prefecture, with around 120 Catholic families. The parish compound includes the Church, a kindergarten, and a parish pastoral centre. During the Pol Pot regime, the parish priest, Fr.Jean Badre, a French Benedictine monk, was killed by the Khmer Rouge. The parish is served by Fr Francesco, a French missionary, on ‘loan’ from the Phnom Penh diocese.
Click this link for a video message from Fr Francesco
Photos of recent work at Chomnaom
Click here for photos of the Repairs to access to the rice field (Spring 2020)
and Work for Food (May 2020)
Our Twin Parish of St Therese of the Infant Jesus
The Tep Im Centre
The Tep Im centre, named in memory of Mgr Paul Tep Im, Bishop Kike’s immediate predecessor who was killed by the Khmer Rouge alongside Fr Jean Badré, was set up to provide accommodation and food for 30 to 40 young people living in isolated villages like Chomnaom who have been admitted to one of Battambang’s universities but cannot afford to rent lodgings. It consists of three buildings (the boys’ accommodation block, the girls’ accommodation block, and the kitchen and main study room) arranged around a pleasant garden with a kiosk in the middle. The students clean the premises, look after the garden and take turns to cook.
The Director of the Tep Im Centre is currently Fr Ashley, a Jesuit missionary from Ireland.
The Tep Im Student Centre, Battambang
All of these centres are part of the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang
Beginning of chapter 2 of Then the Khmer Rouge Came
Little did we know when we left Heathrow on our first trip to Cambodia, at the end of 2007, that this journey would become an annual event. As far as I was concerned, we were on a private fact finding mission, preceded by a few days of sightseeing. We were going to take a look at the communities that our parish had recently become twinned with: Battambang, Cambodia’s third largest city, and Chomnaom, a village some 60 kilometres away. No one in the parish had been there and information was hard to come by, as means of communication were rather limited in those days. We had been told that people were “very poor” and had suffered a lot. But what did very poor mean? There are poor people in England. Like doubting Thomas, I wanted to see for myself.
Newsletter 28.06.20 Updated Sat 11am
Latest News from Cambodia
Watch the video messages from
Recent letters from Pope Francis
Live Simply Wildflower Gardens - as part of our Live Simply parish commitment we are being invited to plant a wildflower patch in our gardens. The Parish has supplied some seeds. Your wildflower patch could be as small or as large as you like, but nothing too onerous - from a metre square to ... well you decide.Parish LiveSimply Wildflower Patches
Look out for more live simply ideas and things we can do together as a parish family in the coming weeks and months
How about joining freecycle - a great way of handing on those unwanted items and finding things you need for free visit the Ipswich page FreeCycle