Cambodian Temple progress inspires collective action

September 16, 2016

BATTAMBANG, Cambodia — It has been eight months since construction work started on the local Baha'i House of Worship in Battambang.

Since the groundbreaking in November of last year and the completion of the earthworks in March, access roads have been built, ponds have been dug, and foundations laid. Construction of the central edifice has also begun and is well underway. Its design was unveiled on 17 July 2015.

New video footage, showing progress of the construction process as well as a tree-planting project, is available here.

Parallel to the construction work has been a growing number of activities that are contributing to the spiritual and material progress of communities in and around Battambang. Inspired by the House of Worship, activities have multiplied and a spirit of prayer and devotion has increasingly permeated the area.

While building has progressed apace, participation of local inhabitants volunteering on the Temple land has demonstrated how the development of the House of Worship is a collective enterprise. Scores of adults, youth, and children have offered time and energy to contribute to projects on the Temple land.

Most recently, on Monday 12 September, over 150 gathered for a tree-planting day.

"It was a perfect day for the project," said Daravuth Keo, a representative of the Bahai community in Cambodia. "The soil was wet and ready for the plants. We started with prayers. Then we discussed the purpose and significance of the project. People formed into different teams. Some were designated to plant the trees, some to work in the nursery, and others to carry out various tasks."

Aerial footage of the Temple site Slideshow
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Aerial footage of the Temple site

Orange, avocado, papaya, lemon, and coconut trees were transplanted together with weeping willows, flame of the forest, chicken tail, foxtail, and yellow flower trees. Some 150 trees were planted that day alone.

Young people have played an especially important part in the rising sense of community solidarity and the flowering of service endeavors in Battambang.

"At the tree planting event, we talked with a large group of youth together, and they shared their reflections," explained Mr. Daravuth. "Many youth shared the idea that the community activities have provided them with a framework for service to society, helped build their capacity to provide moral education to children and younger youth, and taught them to build knowledge with others for the betterment of the world.

"Some commented that this has helped them to stay away from drugs, to focus their energies on building unity, developing community, and walking with others on a path of service."

The House of Worship in Battambang is expected to be completed by late 2017. It is one of five localities that were designated by the Universal House of Justice in 2012 to have a local Baha'i House of Worship.