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March 2019

Dear Friends and Partners,

It has been awhile since I have written – my excuse is a simple one – working very hard to get the Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital ready for our soft opening held this past week. One of the blessings is having my niece Paighton Ritskes here to write of her experiences while in Cambodia. Paighton went house building – this is her account.

This past week I had the opportunity to house build with Tabitha. During my two-day build, we sweat, cried and some bleed but all of these things vanished from our minds the minute we got to meet the families who worked so hard to save for their dream of having a Tabitha home. They took such pride in their homes and their accomplishments, welcoming us with open arms into their community and into their lives. Starting this journey off, we were exposed to the rich and devastating history that Cambodia and the majority of its people faced in the past and in turn still face today.

I grew up in a middle class family in a small town in Ontario. We lived in a beautiful home, when I was growing up we had running water and never did without food. We lived in a safe neighborhood filled with lots of children to befriend and to help make the most of our time. This for me was a rich and blessed childhood, one that not many children in Cambodia grew up with. This was something that I came to realize navigating my way throughout the city of Cambodia and more so during my time house building in a small village in rural Cambodia. One thing that didn’t change was how kind and generous these people were to my fellow house builders and I as we embarked on a two-day build. We built a total of 18 houses for 18 different families who were not only proud of their accomplishment of saving enough money to pay for their home but they were grateful for our presence and excited to show off their existing homes, belongings and precious families. 

 

December 2018

Dear friends and partners,

In this month of Christmas celebrations with dreams and hopes abounding, it is good to share how Christmas works in Tabitha. It’s not a specific month – nor is it a specific thing or step achieved – it is a process – a process of development. The central core of this development process is savings – the core of savings is a dream – a vision – of what a person or family wants to achieve.

In November, Heng, Srei and I visited our project in a small village called SreKeh. The first time I visited this village was in 2013 – a village of thatch huts – hot, dusty and ever so poor. It was a village of no’s – no means of income, no animals, no water, no hope.  We began with savings and as time passed, water sources and income generated. This was a visit to see the progress of the village.

   

October 2018

Dear friends and partners,

I don’t often recognize all the volunteers who are an integral part of Tabitha and Nokor Tep.  I want to recognise people - both men and women - who give up their time -share with us their talents - who walk with us every step of the way. I would like to recognize all our foundations in Canada, USA, UK, Singapore, Australia, Netherlands and Hong Kong.

In late September I visited our foundation in the UK – both London and Aberdeen. It was a very busy 10 days, talking at various schools and several events. How good it was to have a high tea with friends whom I met in Singapore – to have a wine and cheese in Aberdeen with a foursome of very close friends – sharing the work and sharing the fun. The quiz night in London was so good – met old friends and made new ones. For once I was on a team that did not end up last.

September 2018

Dear friends and partners,

This is the month when we reflect on the year that has passed. When we look at what our families have accomplished our hearts are humbled and thankful for all that has been achieved. I am very aware of how I take life and its gifts for granted – sometimes I think I am entitled to these gifts. I live amongst people for whom these gifts are not a right – gifts such as decent food each day - are not guaranteed - so I have learned that all these things I take for granted are really privileges that I must cherish and honor.

Did you know that we review the progress of our families on a monthly basis. We break achievements down into manageable markers. Let me share some of these.

We measure Basic Necessities – things like better food where our families are able to eat a balanced diet throughout the day. We measure things like cooking pots and pans, or better clothing.

     

August 2018

Dear friends and partners,

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.

  

 

July 2018

Dear friends and partners,

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 2018

Dear friends and partners,

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.

  Click and see our tribute to house builders:  https://youtu.be/UTES6Br0tYQ

April 2018

Dear friends and partners,

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.

  

March 30, 2018

Dear friends and partners,

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.   

Click here to see a video about the schools:  https://youtu.be/zsSSMPvfRts

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.

   

February 2018

Dear friends and partners,

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

Kg Channang New Area April 2017 - https://youtu.be/KvfxkulVvug

Kg Channang follow up Visit Feb 2018 - https://youtu.be/t4wObMHtzZo

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