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Indigenous lives Giving people a voice in Cambodia
In north eastern Cambodia, several indigenous groups living in the remote forests of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri are threatened by illegal logging, mining companies and plantations that want to move them off their land.
The communities have a strong historical and spiritual link to their land and natural resources, as well as unique traditions and cultures, all of which they wish to preserve.
CAFOD works with local partner, Development Partnership in Action, to help indigenous communities demand legal rights to their ancestral land, so they can maintain their culture and way of life.
Recently, we provided photography training to young people from some of these communities. The project has enabled them to document their culture and communicate the issues that are important to them.
“ This project is important because it will help preserve the traditional culture of indigenous people. Over time, this culture is being forgotten – but it’s important that it’s not lost. Without this project their culture could disappear.” Samrith, 23, (pictured) who works for DPA.
“ I want to document our lives through photos. It will help people like me, who are part of the younger generation, learn traditional crafts and practices and pass them on, so they are not forgotten.” Van Oer, 29, indigenous photographer.
“ I want to take photos of village activities to show the traditional practices of our community.” Keo Choeun, 28, indigenous photographer.
“ My wish is to see my community develop. It’s important because indigenous people are marginalised in Cambodia, but they also have the right to education and the right to learn.” Yeng Yeng, 22, indigenous photographer.
In July 2010, the communities held a competition. They selected three photographers to display their photos at the national celebration of indigenous people’s culture in Siem Reap.
Third prize: Phong traditional wedding ceremony. “The traditions of the Phong people need to be preserved before they are lost.” Krohn Khanich, 16, indigenous photographer.
Second prize: Birth day ceremony. “The birthday party is celebrated a few days after the baby is born. Guests are invited to drink white wine from a jar with four tubes.” Kamm Leun Sin, indigenous photogapher.
First prize: Ghost spirit ceremony. “The ceremony is held in March and May to pray for the happiness of indigenous people.” Keo Choeun, 28, indigenous photographer.
Photos Indigenous photographers from communities in central Cambodia.