With our regular newsletters, we aim to keep you posted on all the interesting and important news and updates of our programs and various activities. Enjoy reading!
Dear friends and partners, I am sitting here in my office listening to the patter of rain – rain and more rain – this summer has been the summer of rain. First, our time in Canada this summer left us 7 days of sunshine in one of the coldest, rainiest of summers in a long time but we enjoyed all that Canada had to offer. It was very good.
Since we returned to Cambodia in August, the rains have fallen in a steady, weeping fashion. For some of our families, the rain is a blessing – the rice will grow well this year if it doesn’t flood. For others of our families, the rain has not fallen. I traveled to Kampot this week – we needed to pass through parts of Takeo province. Here the rain has been sporadic and the rice is not growing – in Kampot – the rain has fallen in abundance – in fact, parts of the highway were flooded – we looked at the fields through sheets of rain – as the families asked for two reservoirs – these are large ponds – 25 meters square – that need to be walled in with cement. If done, the 240 families needing the reservoirs will be able to have year round crops covering a minimum of 250 hectares. Right now, they grow one crop of rice a year – hard to imagine as we stood drenched in the rice paddies surrounding us. For Tabitha staff, rain brings its own challenges – for our country roads and tracks that are used to get our families have turned into a morass of slippery goop. I know, I have walked in the mess, I have been given a lift on the back of a carabao – I am getting too old for this - I have been on a wagon moved by a rotor tiller – we slid into the ditch several times but we survived. Despite the hardships the staff is eager to show what they have done. What a remarkable group of people. August marks the end of our program year and we look back and see what you and I and all of Tabitha staff have done. It’s been an amazing year. We had 83 teams of volunteers come from all over the world and they built 887 houses. Our biggest team ever of 150 people built 45 houses in one day – an experience to be remembered but not done too often. Another 659 families were able to construct their own homes. Our cry for water in the form of wells and ponds was supported and enabled by so many of you. This past year, 1165 wells were dug enabling over 4500 families to a way out of poverty -another 79 ponds were dug to enable 101 families to thrive – each of the families have increased their earnings from an average of $30 per month to an average of a minimum of $200.00 per month. It’s not just the earnings – it is their health that has improved – their bodies are stronger and their eyes are shining as they not only sell what they grow but also eat the food. What, for me, is so humbling is to see so many of our husbands and fathers staying home because there is work to be done. 4,188 families were able to buy water jars in which to store water for home use. How good it is! The simple basics of life were achieved by so many of our families – an unbelievable 18,626 families improved their lives with better food – meaning being able to eat a variety of food, three times a day. A remarkable 31,696 of our families were able to buy such things as pots and pans, dishes, blankets and towels, mosquito nets and so much more – things we take for granted but for our families are all steps out of despair. 4,649 families were able to pay for medical expenses and 1841 of our families had children who were able to get married. 4,476 of our families were able to buy a battery so they can have light each night – more than 176,000 of our children went to school this year – 7,200 plus families raised animals of some sort - pigs, chickens, fish and cows,- over 13,000 families are growing vegetables and or rice this year because of all of you. And the list goes on – despite the financial crisis and despite the dramatic downturn in tourists – our cottage industry sales provided enough work for all our workers – year round. The sales are down but we could provide good work for everyone. How very thankful we are for that gift. We have started our new year and we have visions of helping another 33,000 families move their way from despair to hope, from sorrow to joy. We cannot do it without each of you. Thank you for the blessings of the year that has just ended. We look forward to the blessings all of us together will bring to many who have none. I thank my God for such a privileged and wondrous life. Janne Ritskes