Water is a true gift of life. Your gift of life giving water changes our families – it begins with being able to wash daily – bodies, clothes, dishes – during the unbelievable heat of Cambodia – what a joy it is to be able to cool down with water.
This morning I was singing a song that I learned in my childhood – Blest be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love. What an appropriate song as I talk with the women who create our beautiful products in the cottage industry program.
The tie for us is the silk – colors and textures that reflect the great beauty of our women. It was not always so. Their lives speak of horrors and hurt that few of us can imagine. All were sold back in their youth – sold into a sex trade that dehumanized them – for some the lives long reward was contracting AIDS – an additional curse in lives that have so many curses.
Working with such a beautiful material – rich and vibrant colors – brings out their inner beauty so rich and vibrant in their current lives. They have become their own family – I am greeted every morning with big smiles and a happy good morning – often we ear laughter ripple through the building as they work together.
June – a month when spring brings refreshing rains and new growth spurts in part of our world – in other parts of our world, June heralds the onset of cold weather, a time of rest for all that grows. May in Cambodia is as predictable as ever – hot and sunny unless it rains and then it is hot and wet.
We have a number of house building teams come in all kinds of weather – the heat is overwhelming – the lack of electricity and water on site leaves the volunteers gasping – but – they don’t quit. They continue to build and at the end of the day – families have a home.
There is an age old question that no one seems to have an answer for – “what comes first, the chicken or the egg”. For Tabitha the question is easily answered – - Savings!!! - for a clutch of chicks or a family of several hens and a rooster – or a group of goslings or two adult ducks!
Savings for families who live in poverty is a way to take a small amount and turn it into a bigger amount. Chicks, chickens or ducks is a good way to take a little and turn it into more. Chicks start to lay eggs at 20 days - good chickens lay everyday for about a year and then get a bit tired and lay every second day – roosters – well they like to rule the roost and every rooster needs their own space for peace to reign.
One of the greatest pleasures in our work at Tabitha is the privilege of visiting and seeing the new schools being completed. For many children a new school – a chance at education signifies a new life; a new beginning. Over the past few years, Tabitha Cambodia has built 89 schools through the generosity of some of our donors. For the children that attend the schools, it is excitement beyond words.
How do I explain meeting 14 year old Phat sitting amongst a class of two year olds – so grown up yet willing to be with those much younger than him – a desire to learn – to understand the mysteries of reading and writing – mysteries that will open a whole new world for him.
The past two months have been busy with visiting new and ongoing villages in our various project areas. It is such a privilege to see families join our programs – families for whom life is very difficult – families for whom savings are the start of process of hopes and achievements.
One such village is Cha Village in Kompong Channang – a village which we started in a year ago- it’s a beautiful location – an oasis in the midst of rice fields. It is a village where life is exceptionally hard but also a village of great hope and spirit. I have inserted the links to both visits
Good morning to all of you- I have seen pictures of snow and wintery weather from some and high heat and beaches from others. What a wonderful world we live in. This morning I want to take the opportunity to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and the best in the new year.
At Tabitha we are so thankful for this joyous season – we are thankful for the blessings you and us have been able to bring to so many. Our cottage industry program keeps growing providing work and dignity for our ladies – women who were sold into prostitution so many years ago – women who have risen above this sadness to become ladies of strength and courage – women of dignity and hope. So many of you have enabled this to happen trough buying one of their beautiful creations – how good is that! Please watch this short video and hear our best wishes for all of you.
It has been awhile since I have written – my trip to Canada was very good and my daughter Miriam is happily involved in her studies at university – a new beginning for Miriam – it’s also a new beginning for Tabitha – we have finished another year of service to so many families here.
Let me share what we have accomplished this past year and what we hope to achieve in this New Year. WE were blessed to be able to work with 15,546 families with 124,368 dependents through savings. As always there are miracle stories – stories such as Channy and her neighbors. This past year saw them receive a new home from Tabitha – they raised chickens and pigs, collected crabs and ants from the fields- buy bicycles and batteries – so many steps forward to a better life . How good that is!!
This is a joyful newsletter that I am writing today – so much good news for Tabitha and Nokor Tep – how good that is. So let me share the first piece of good news.
Tabitha Foundation Hong Kong is now a fully registered charity in Hong Kong – with tax deductibility status for donations received. I want to thank Frank and Ariel for their perseverance to follow through a very long and exhausting process – BUT WE MADE IT – I would like all of you to welcome Tabitha Hong Kong by visiting their web site www.tabithahk.org and liking them on their facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TabithaHK/ . We are so very grateful and humbled.
The second big news is that our official soft opening for Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital will be on March 8, 2018 – International Women’s Day – a great way to celebrate with the opening of a woman’s hospital. If you are planning on coming – please send me a note with names and passport numbers of who will be coming. Protocol will be very important on that day as we expect the PM to cut the ribbon.
This month is a rather emotional month for myself and my daughter Miriam. Miriam graduates from school on May 20th and 10 days later leaves Cambodia for a new adventure in Canada. Yes, my girl is moving on to University – she has been offered and accepted an Honors BA in Women’s Studies and Sociology at the University of Ottawa.
How can it be that this scrap of humanity – 1.1 kilo at birth- HIV positive- lactose intolerant with a dim future turn out to be such a lovely young lady, ready to prepare herself to – as Miriam says it – I need to give back, mama!
This month I went on a site visit to meet our new families in Kompong Speu. What a lovely day it turned out to be. The weather was perfect, the rice harvest was in and the families were delighted to show us their pass books and their purchases.
Some had bought chickens – but I could see no chickens. Other had bought pigs but I could see no pigs. Where are your animals, I asked. And the chatter began – at 7 in the morning – we turn our animals loose – the pigs go into the fields to forage – they roam far and wide- the chickens roam the surrounding fields. I was a bit dumbfounded – how do you know your own pigs and chickens – the laughter increased at my ignorance - oh, they chortled – they come home when they are hungry – usually when the sun goes down. One wizened grandmother looked me in the eye – my pig sometimes stays out overnight – I think maybe he has a girlfriend.
Happy New Year’s everyone – we wish all of you a blessed and wondrous 2017. We started our new year with a trip up country to visit new families and ongoing families. What a lovely day it was. Heng, Srie and I traveled to Takeo to visit a new community of families. It was a day of enjoyment as Heng reveled in walking through the villages – it was day of comforting and a day of new hope – it was a day of celebrating it was a good way to start 2017.
We met with 67 year year old Mao and her neighbors – Mao was saving for pots and pans – at 67 - there were no pots and pans – she had just received her funds and she was excited.
We have come to the end of another year and started our next program year. It’s always a time of reflection – what did we do well, what we did that is not so good. We went and visited a number of families that were enrolled last year. Cambodia is changing and the deep poverty is not so easy to travel to. Our trip involved driving on smooth tarmac, to dirt, to mud and then just fields.
It was worth every jolt and bump. We met with several families that had started last September. Our staff shared the concept of saving for chickens – chickens that lay eggs everyday! From several it rapidly multiplies to 20, 50, 100, up to 200 chickens. They added ducks – they start to multiply and life is getting better.
These past few months in Cambodia have been very difficult for millions of people here. Cambodia has been hit hard by drought and phenomenal heat. The average mid-day temperatures throughout the country is 42-44 degrees centigrade. It leaves us all feeling extremely hot and very tired. It is not a pleasure to be outside.
But the hot temperatures are spawning erratic and very dangerous thunderstorms – storms that have a high wind and lightning but very little rain. The result is devastating as homes are blown apart and families no longer have shelter.
We have a number of house building teams come in this weather – the heat is overwhelming – the lack of electricity and water on site leaves the volunteers gasping – but – they don’t quit. They continue to build and at the end of the day – families have a home.
This coming weekend is Easter – a time of year that for many around the world signifies new beginnings – a new chance at life. For others it signifies the season of spring – again a time of new beginnings, of cleaning the house and watching nature spring forth with new growth.
For many children a new school – a chance at education signifies a new life; a new beginning. Over the past few years, Tabitha Cambodia has built 76 schools through the generosity of some of our donors. For the children that attend the schools, it is excitement beyond words. How can we forget the intensity of a 16 year old sitting in the first grade – struggling to control the pencil he had in his hand – he was oblivious to everyone around him – even myself – he was totally absorbed in making marks that meant new life to him.
This month of March celebrates women internationally. March 8th is the day set aside for official recognition. Here in Tabitha Cambodia we celebrate women every day of the year – we celebrate family – we celebrate life itself.
Life for many Cambodian women is not easy – their value in life is seen as one who must take care of home and family. This value is dictated by custom yet life is hardly as easy as it sounds. For many women day to day life is one of constant struggle – struggle to clothe and feed their families; struggle to manage their farm land; struggle to deal with daily health issues.