Subscribe to our newsletter with stories from our latest news and friends in the Lord
On 22-31 March 2023, we made an exhibition at Gallery1898, Seoul Korea. It featured a variety of crosses made of wood from Banteay Prieb houses.
In December 2019, Banteay Prieb (which translated into ‘The Center of Dove’)—a vocational Training School for People with Disabilities in Cambodia—permanently closed after its final commencement ceremony. The school was left with 15 or so empty houses.
In preparing this exhibition, I came to realize that Banteay Prieb was a home for so many individuals who were able to find the resources they need in order to root their lives. Therefore, creating crosses from the wood of student boarding houses is not merely a creation of art. Moreover, it is an act of preservation.
We preserve the lives in Banteay Prieb. These little crosses will be a reminder of the consolation, warmth, and comfort of the houses, also the many people who have been helped when living in them. The wooden houses where students resided resembles “Banteay Prieb.” These houses are a reminder to us to lean on each other, despite our past wounds.
In the exhibition, we displayed “Consolatio Crosses” of which people could purchase. In Latin, “Con” means “together,” “Solatio” means “alone,” and “Consolatio” means “Consolation.”
The “Consolatio Cross” design has two crosses overlapping. The wood of the outside cross was the bed of the students, while the wood of the cross embedded inside was taken from the wall and floor of the student houses. It symbolises a cross of two people who want to comfort each other. I hope that this “Consolatio Cross” becomes a symbol of the poor and those who stand by them.
There was a mother who purchased a “Consolatio Cross” for her disabled child. The mother explained that her child had a habit of throwing things, and asked if she could hang the cross on the wall. As I explained how to hang it, I wondered what the cross meant to this mother. I imagined the mother becoming a home to the child, and imagined them walking together with the cross on their backs. I hope the “Consolatio Cross” consoles her and her child. I hope one day she can recognize that we are all walking together.
For me, another meaning behind these houses is the call of being a ‘missionary.’
I pondered the meaning of ‘missionary’. It is not only limited to the religious, but also includes the various volunteers and donors. Therefore, I decided to put ‘The People Who Follow the Calling’ as a subtitle. Although Banteay Prieb has disappeared, I wanted people to know that the ‘The People Who Follow the Calling’ are still the home of the poor.
The missionaries who stayed with the poor in Cambodia for so many years are now creating a new hope for Cambodian children. As the resurrection needs death, I believe Banteay Prieb’s closure (death) became the source of the Cambodia Xavier Jesuit School’s start (resurrection). I sincerely pray that the ‘power of sharing’ I experienced in Banteay Prieb will pass onto the children of Xavier Jesuit School Cambodia as well as the children suffering from the crisis in the world. I hope we can realize that in our poor hearts, that there is still a warmth that can help those struggling.