Thanksgiving in a time of pandemic and flooding - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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December 2020 newsletter


Hang Tran, Cambodia


Fishing in the flooded fields

The recent series of typhoons in Southeast Asia flooded hundreds of thousands of Cambodians and made them homeless. This is another hardship in addition to the loss of jobs and livelihoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some had to scavenge for food or tried to fish along the flooded fields.

Villagers arriving on the back of a tractor

The Missionaries of Charity organized relief efforts in coordination with the flooded communities. We were busy preparing dry food and supplies for the trip. On a sunny day between the heavy rains, I joined the Home of Hope’s staff, the Cambodian physicians and others to head to Takeo Province — about 100 km (62 miles) southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh. The news spread several days in advance, and people traveled on farming tractors, motos or bicycles to the community centers for the event.

When our vehicles arrived, the local communities quickly turned their gathering space to a makeshift communal consultation room and dispensary. The dry food and supplies were distributed right off the truck to save time from unloading and the rain. Everyone joined hands in various activities.

Many people have diseases borne from unsanitary water and mosquitos. I helped aunties and grandmas sort out their medicines and the schedules for taking them. As night fell, people kept coming, but the group had to hit the road before the driving conditions worsened. More than 260 people got their health checked and treated with medication. Approximately 180 deeply flooded families received rice, blankets, clothing and mosquito nets, etc.

Sorting out pain ointment and medicine

Many of the people lost their jobs and livelihoods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and their homes to extensive flooding. However, the children were ever ready to play and laugh. Even as several families had to shelter together on limited drier surface, the adults were smiling. The conversations were filled with cooperation and hope for the future.

What an opportunity of grace during Bon Kathin — the Cambodian celebration equivalent to Thanksgiving — as the rainy season comes to a close. The people’s resilience and positive outlook are truly uplifting and a blessing to me.

Hope persists in the here and now. Through taking small steps in the right direction, we participate in transforming hope into better realities in the future. For every kindness expressed or every grain of food shared, there is abundance to go around.

Thank you for making this holiday season possible!

Many blessings for Christmas
and the New Year,
Hang Tran



Hang Tran
A Maryknoll lay missioner since 2013, Hang Tran works with young people living with disabilities at the Home of Hope in Chom Chao, Cambodia.