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July 2020

Dear friends and partners,

 

As the Covid virus continues to disrupt the lives of millions around the world, Cambodia continues to struggle as well. Many have lost their jobs because the tourism industry has come to a virtual halt; manufacturing is down to 40% - slowly the local markets are opening and many families are struggling to meet their daily basic needs. There is no government social net to help folks – no subsidies; no unemployment cheques; no means to keep life going except by turning to family for help and sustenance.

 

Despite the doom and gloom, families in Tabitha savings program live out the importance of savings – the impact and hope that it brings to thousands. In Lvear Village, Siem Reap, Dul Kimsan joined the savings program in 2017. Dul has 6 children – 3 of whom are married with several children of their own. They moved to the cities to work in factories and construction.

June 2020

Dear friends and partners,

 

It is good to be able to write during this trying time of the corona virus. Cambodia, like so many countries around the world, struggles to find a healthy balance between loosening restrictions for the population to be able to return to work while protecting the population from spreading the virus. In so many ways Cambodia is blessed as the virus has not taken hold and spread through communities but rather is brought in by travelers from many parts of the world (122 cases in total – all recovered) Keeping the borders closed is good but has devastated the tourism industry – an industry that had employed thousands of Cambodians. Businesses built on supplying the tourism industry has suffered greatly. A second important source of employment are the garment factories which had employed over 800,000 people – most are now closed – and life is very difficult and uncertain for so very many people.

 

What has become clear is how important and relevant the savings program is. I want to share a story from Kandal – Heng and Thearom visited last week and spoke with Nith Chanthon. She lives in Prek Taek ?Village, Kandal Province and joined the Tabitha savings program in April 2017. 

 

As she says” till now my family living is getting better from day to day through Saving Program including received Well from Tabitha. I am possible to planting vegetable, rice plants, and feeds animals. I have received profits to buy materials such as: Water jars Plates, Pots and Toilet and enlarge house built and especially my kids are going to school. “

 

April 2020

April 2020

 

Dear friends and partners,

 

During this difficult period of the Covid 19 pandemic, life is rather uncertain for all of us. There is so much chatter, so many dire warnings that a person could begin to think that the world is coming to an end. So many fears and so much trembling.

March 2020

March 2020

Dear friends and partners,

In this month of March when the country is in its fourth month of the dry season I would like to talk about the impact of water in the lives of so many of our families. Water is life – it allows our families to grow three to four crops of rice each year – despite the dry season. It allows our families to grow gardens full of vegetables and fruit trees. It allows our families to raise animals such as chickens, pigs and ducks throughout the year.

February 2020

Dear friends and partners,

 

Every so often I have a site visit that truly leaves me in a state of wonder. We travelled to our villages in Romae Heck in Svay Rieng province. As usual when we arrived - I got a warm welcome from the villagers. In this case the main greeter was a woman named Oun Ni. Our trip into the village was an education – Tabitha is in the process of turning the dry fallow land into a sea of emerald green through the wells we had installed. It was truly beautiful. Another village on its way to prosperity!

January 2020

Dear friends and partners,

 As we begin the New Year 2020 I would like to share with you some of the exciting things happening within our Tabitha Cambodia project areas. Last week we went to Prey Veng province – Ponley Sdoa Village. It is an area we started in 5 years ago – an area marked by poverty and despair. The men had all left to various parts of Cambodia for work, leaving the women and children behind. Life was so very hard.

December 2019

Dear friends and partners,

The month of December is such a lovely month – it’s a month where much of the world looks forward to celebrating the Christmas holidays. For some it’s simply a time of getting together with family and friends; for others like me - it is a time of celebrating Christ’s birth – God’s immense love and compassion for His people. It’s a time of hope; it’s a time of reflection. Yet for others it can be time of sadness for those who do not have a purpose – who cannot see their way forward in life – a time where there is no hope.

Tabitha Cambodia works with families who have no hope when we start to work with them – for whom life is so very difficult. We work through savings – a process where families begin to recognize that they can change their lives - they can be in control – they do not need to live in despair.  A process that enables them to dream of what they can achieve – it may be simple things like eating two to three times a day – meals that are nutritious and delicious. They can dream of more complex things like sending their children to school, or building a better home, or having water each day. They can dream of having several ways of increasing their daily incomes through raising animals such as chickens or pigs – or having a small business - so many ways to raise their incomes.   They learn about a process that will allow these dreams to come true – a process where they decide how much money they will save over a ten week period at the end of which - their dream becomes a reality. It’s a process that allows families the time to achieve dream after dream – each step becoming more complex than the last.           

 

October 2019

October 2019

Dear friends and partners,

This month marks Tabitha Cambodia’s 25th anniversary. It has been and continues to be an amazing journey. We began when Cambodia was still in transition from a country devastated by war, genocide, isolation by the international community, insecurity through war lords and transition to peace – life when we started was worthless – taking life and causing mayhem amongst the population was the norm. 25 years later and Cambodia has achieved a modicum of peace. Life is more valued now – discussions now focus on where the country wants to be in the future – questions that are not easily discussed or answered.

25 years ago, 99% of the people lived in great fear – insecurity was rife. 90% of the people lived in makeshift homes – finding a livelihood that brought food each day was a challenge – travelling from place to place in the country was full of danger. The infrastructure was minimal at best – lack of all basic essentials was a struggle. 25 years later security has improved considerably, the infrastructure continues to improve at a rapid rate – people tend to eat every day – are able to work if they wish to do so. 25 years ago the population was 7.2 million – 25 years later it is 17 million and growing – so much change – so much better.

Tabitha Cambodia was privileged to be a part of this transition to peace. When we started, travelling within the city was fraught with danger – working with families who were fearful and traumatized taught us so much about the strength of the human spirit – taught us all about respect and dignity for each person – taught us the value of each life – inestimable value despite coming out of an era where life was worthless and people were reduced to things – their only value was to be used, abused and thrown away.

In this 25 year process, Tabitha Cambodia was privileged to work in 17 provinces transforming whole villages in our work. We were humbled by the need to show respect and dignity to the people we worked with by instituting a savings program that focused on the dreams and visions of each family – we were entrusted with their funds – entrusted with their dreams. To date 579,546 families with 4,610,127 dependents have been served. Their dreams of basics, food, clothing, shelter, income generation were met – we were cheerleaders in that process.

In this 25-year process we enabled 12,586 families to receive a new starter home – moving from 2 square meters of living space to 20 meters of living space – we were humbled by 27,102 volunteers who came from all over the world to help pay for materials and to help finish these homes. These starter homes became the means for our families to continue the process and end up with firm stable homes – expanded, refined and meeting the needs of the families. We cheered as another 424,746 rebuilt their shacks into beautiful homes through the savings and income generation projects they did through savings. It is so very good.

August 2019

Dear Friends and Partners,

In many parts of the world, children and students of all ages, sizes and nationalities are preparing to return to school. In Cambodia our long school break begins in September when children are needed at home to help with tilling the land and sowing the soil with rice – a staple of the Cambodian diet.

Cambodia is a developing country and children are an integral part of insuring that families have enough to eat throughout the year. For girls, there is an additional expectation – an expectation that her role in life is to marry and bear children – a social norm that determines much in a girl’s life. Education is not necessarily seen as a necessity for a young lady but rather a short-term luxury until she is married. An additional constraint to education for both sexes is the distance needed to be travelled to get to school – a constraint that prevents many children from attending school.

 

June 2019

Dear Friends and Partners,

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, my niece gave her account on Tabitha Programs and now, she expresses her experience with our families in our Water Sources Program as she wrote:

Water, it’s a simple thing in our lives, but its something that we take for granted, and something that many people go without. We need it to survive, to earn an income and to maintain our general health and well being, yet some people go without. This seems crazy to me, I grew up with clean drinking water, running water to bath in and to play in on hot days in the summer time, but some people do without. When you think about it, water is the single most important thing in our lives, but that’s the thing we don’t think about because we have always had it. For some people, however, water is always on their mind, where they are going to get it, if there will be enough and how they will survive without it. Many communities in Cambodia have never seen running water, some have to walk miles just to get a bucket of water for the day and some do not have any sources of water and go without.

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