Cambodia

No greater Love

By Ma. Ceres Doyo

“True to form, true to form,” a young Jesuit sobbed when he learned of the death of his friend and fellow Jesuit Brother Richard “Richie” Michael Fernando, 26. As Richie lived, so did he die. He live working among the victims of violence, he died in the midst of them.

Richie was killed by a grenade on October 17 at the Jesuit –run Centre of the Dove in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. At the time of his death, Richie was doing his two-year-regency, that stage when young Jesuits studying to be priests get immersed in an apostolate. Richie had spent two years each in the novitiate, juniorate and in philosophy studies. He had made his simple vows as a Jesuit, hence the ‘S.J’. After his name and had four more years of theology studies to go before he gets ordained. He would have been a priest by the year 2001.

The Forgotten People

By Beatriz T. Millena

Betty, a midwife by profession, is from the Diocese of Digos in Mindanao. She joined the PIME lay mission program two years ago. She was sent to Cambodia, a Buddhist country, in 2001 to work with HIV/AIDS patients in Phnom Penh, the capital. She tells us about the sad reality brought by this epidemic to the people of Cambodia.

What I had in mind when I left for Cambodia was that I would be involved with community development projects, similar to what I was doing back in the Philippines. I never expected that of all kinds of ministry, I'd up working with HIV/AIDS patients. I wanted to back out. I was scared and I told myself, ‘I won’t do this work.’

Epidemic

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cambodia is one of the most serious in Asia. Of their 13.4 million population, 3.2% of adults are infected with the HIV virus that often leads to AIDS. 100 new infections occur everyday with a total of 35,000 over the last year; 2.6 % of pregnant women are HIV infected. It is estimated that 3,500 HIV-positive babies will be born each year if nothing would be done about this.

War against AIDS

The government established a program called Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) almost three years ago in a limited number of hospitals with help from international NGOs and some local organizations. It also did research on the anti retro virus medicine called Nevirapine. The researchers found out that this tablet can prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to child -- 95% of cases. Pregnant mothers infected with HIV should take one tablet of Nevirapine during labor period and also give the baby one dose 72 hours after birth. But breastfeeding increases the risk of transmission from 5% to 32%.

Who Will Put Humpty Together Again?

By Gee-Gee O. Torres, assistant Editor

The devastation of Cambodia by Pol Pot is now legendary. But the Killing Fields were only part of his terror. On an ideological ‘trip’ he banished people from cities like Phnom Penh and closed down the school. Like Humpty Dumpty, the city and its institutions were shattered and lay in ruins. Into this educational wilderness have stepped some Filipino followers of Don Bosco to help Cambodia put the pieces together again. Our Assistant Editor visited them and shares with us what she saw. (Ed)

The Lame Will Walk

By Gee-Gee O. Torres

The great struggle to end anti-personnel landmines continues. Up to now, in spite of the campaign of Princess Diana, Pax Christi and a great number of Christian and to there group throughout the world, some countries continue to make landmines: Pakistan, India, USA, China. Below is an account of our Assistant Editor’s visit to Cambodia where she visited our Filipino missionaries and was faced with the stark reality of the effects of the landmines. (Ed.)

Before I went to Cambodia last year to visit our Filipino missionaries I had to finish laying out our March-April 2000 issue. I also had to edit the articles which I enjoyed doing, except for one: the articles on landmines. I quivered as I read the lines describing how landmines tore off the limbs of the victims. So I went to Cambodia not only with my unpleasant memory of the movie, The Killing Fields, but also with the uncertainty of my safety. I could step on a landmine by chance and lose my leg or... my life. Was I ready to take this risk? I had to make a decision. I decided to go.

Return To The Killing Fields

By Gee-Gee O. Torres

We sent our Assistant Editor, Gee-Gee Torres, to Cambodia to visit the six Filipino congregations in that Southeast Asian country and to see how they were doing. Here she shares with us in the first of several articles part of her own missionary experience. (Ed.)

Brave Journey

By Bro. Condrado Lagaya, SDB

It has been two years since that tragic death of the Jesuits Missionary, Bro Richie Fernando, SJ, here in Cambodia. His memory is still alive among the Catholic communities, especially with the students and staff of the rehabilitation school. Though his mortal remains rest in the Philippines, some of his blood is now enshrined in a tomb placed on top of small mound. And on January 25, 1997, this mound was visited by two Bro. Richie’s loved ones, his mother and his brother.

Diana and the Landmines

I was sick and you visited me


Photo Courtesy : http://www.royal.gov.uk/List%20Images/List%20images%202/PSSOW/EMP-4483534.jpg

A year ago Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris.

Our readers know that MISYON has been carrying the campaign against anti-personnel mines for a long time now. So we were delighted when Diana, Princess of Wales, took up the campaign. It gave a very high profile image to the anti-mine work and highlighted the horror of 26,000 casualties a year. These casualties are mostly children, women and farmers. The Holy Father himself has singled out these weapons as been particularly inhuman when he said, “I should once again like to make a vigorous appeal for the definitive cessation of the manufacture and use of these arms called anti-personnel mines. In many countries of the world they compromise the return of peace over long periods of time because they have been placed either on the roads or in the fields with the intention of causing indiscriminate harm to a maximum number of people. In fact they continue to kill and cause irreparable damage well after the end of hostilities, giving rise to severe mutilation in adults and above all in children."

He Will Never Grow Old

By Totet Banaynal, SJ

It was October 17, 1996. The Jesuits in their theological formation had just arrived form a three-day rest in a beach in Tali, Batangas. Refreshed, everyone was in high spirits as they took their lunch in the refectory of the Loyola House of Studies in the Ateneo de Manila University.

Suddenly the house went black. News came that Richie Fernando, a young Filipino Jesuit missionary in Cambodia was dead. At 9:30 that morning, Richie tried to stop a troubled student in the Technical School for the Handicapped from throwing a hand grenade at a class of other handicapped students most already injured by landmines. Her ordered the other to run away and tried to restrain the young man. However, the grenade fell behind Riche and the powerful explosion inside the school building hit Richie in the base of the skull, the upper and lower back and his legs. As he was hit, he flew into the air and dropped on his back but in the process fully shielded the man who wielded the grenade from being hit. Two other handicapped students also suffered from minor injuries but the rest of the students were safe. In a second, Richie was lying dead on a pool of blood gushing out from his back. It was his last act of love for his students and friends in this foreign land.

No greater Love

By Ma. Ceres Doyo

“True to form, true to form,” a young Jesuit sobbed when he learned of the death of his friend and fellow Jesuit Brother Richard “Richie” Michael Fernando, 26. As Richie lived, so did he die. He live working among the victims of violence, he died in the midst of them.