Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh met for talks with 100 persons who are AIDS-Positive living with their families at Takeo province on the occasion of the Khmer New Year holidays on 11 April 2019. This meet-up was done in collaboration with the provincial Church and the Department of Cults and Religions.
The families came from some of the areas around the province. Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Cults and Religion, Kam Dampheng said that the visit and talks was a sign of witnessing showing great attention by the Catholic Church. The Deputy Director also thanked the bishop for always taking an active part and bringing along parcels of gifts to be distributed to them in a transparent and effective manner.
At the event, bishop Olivier said that this was a chance to wish all brothers and sisters good strength in their struggle and good health on a daily basis.
“Our issue is a day-to-day illness and what is most important, is that our life today has the joys and sorrows. The bishop encouraged them by saying that our Takeo province consists of more than 2,000 AIDS-positive people. I read in the local media that in five years to come, there would be vaccinations against this virus, but importantly, please be careful not to have new partners – only one wife and the use of medication on a regular basis.
The Prelate also complimented the elderly ladies there for helping in further educating the youth. “Peace is very important, especially when we enter the [Khmer] New Year when it is the time we wish one another. When the angel comes on Sunday, we have blessings from heaven, but please do not forget to wish one another,” he said.
He also stressed: “We discover happiness in life by uniting as one family, respecting all as brothers and sisters. What is importance [is that] although we belong to different religions, we are brothers and sisters in the Khmer spirit by loving each other to promote the nation according to our own capacities.”
Kam Dampheng in conclusion said that the event had taken place with good collaboration between the Church and the provincial Department of Cults and Religion. Each family then received soap, washing dish liquid , detergent, fish sauce, soy sauce, milled rice and some cash.