03/07/2017, 18.37
MYANMAR
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Bible reading and educational activities at summer camp organised by Pathein Diocese

by Yaung Ni Oo

Over a hundred youth attended the gathering, including AVSI sponsored children. Reading and listening to the Word of God was the camp’s main activity. All “religions are based on love and sharing of one's life,” said one young participant.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – As summer approaches, and school exams come to an end, Myanmar’s dioceses begin to plan summer camps, catechism classes and various activities for children and teenagers.

In view of this, the Family of God community in Myaungmya parish, Pathein diocese (Irrawaddy delta), recently organised a summer camp titled ‘Speak Father, we listen’.

About 124 youths from three hostels (Bethany, Mother of Myanmar, and Nazareth Bush School) took part in the event, plus other young people, who benefit from the AVSI international child sponsorship programme.

Every year, the Family of God community organises a summer camp (pictured) for its children. Every year a different theme is chosen and various activities are prepared for children, with the aim to bolstering their Christian faith, as well as meeting their daily physical and educational needs.

This year the event promoted by the local Church was dedicated to the Bible, with readings led by Fr Augustine Aung Soe Lin, with the help of a nun and two lay people.

The summer camp lasted five days, starting on 1 March with the arrival of children from the Nazareth Bush School to the Hill of love and ended on Sunday 5 March with the celebration of Mass.

During the three days of seminars, meetings and discussions, children learnt to read and explore some chapters of the Bible. They also took part in moments of meditation and sharing personal experiences.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) is behind the summer camps. The Diocese of Pathein organised the first of these gatherings, but others will follow in the coming weeks.

With the first one over, Fr Augustine will visit the parishes of ThingaN Aing, Ye Nan Aing, and Myaungmya to attend meetings that include the participation of at least a thousand children.

At these venues, children can touch the Bible like their daily bread. For them the book becomes a source of life, to experience and share with others, along with what they dream and learn every day.

Fr Benjamin is charge of camp activities, and can count on the help of the children’s families: parents help prepare meals, take care of the logistics, transport and meet the children's needs, whilst teachers prepare performances starting with the Bible itself.

Speaking to AsiaNews, a little girl named Maria, who attended the Myaungmya camp, said that "all religions are based on love and sharing of one's life." They teach that it is possible to live together "in peace and harmony".

The latter are essentials for a nation where ethnic and sectarian tensions rage, especially with the Kachin in the north and the Muslim Rohingya minority in the western state of Rakhine.

"We are the good seeds fallen onto the ground,” she added, “and we shall grow with the desire to serve our community, as we have seen our dear and beloved Fr Benjamin do."

For another child, a boy named David, "Our life is a testimony of love, and sharing life".

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