Dear friends, This month is the beginning of our new fiscal and program year. It is also the month of our annual report for what we have done in the past year. It has been a very good year. We have worked with 33,958 families with 271,664 dependents. 2025 volunteers came from all over the world and built 611 houses – unbelievable! We were able to install 997 wells – bringing hope to so very many people.
Dear friends and partners, I am feeling good today – in fact I am in a state of contentment. This month is the beginning of our process of evaluating what we have done this year and what we would like to do next year. Part of this process involves me visiting a number of our projects. Last week I was in Siem Reap. It was one of those visits that left me a bit breathless.
Dear friends and partners, I am sitting here this morning feeling a bit self satisfied. Two years ago, at our annual staff meeting, Tina (who is a man) was one of our new staff. His attitude at the meeting left a bit to be desired. When I asked what problems people were having, his statement was rather blunt – the people are lazy. My older staff knew better than to use that word around me. I turned on him and asked him how he knew the people were lazy – did he ask them if they were lazy – was he there all the time to see if they were lazy – I mean what did he really know! The discussion moved rapidly to what is our biggest barrier to our work and just as rapidly came the answer from those who had learned before Tina – we are often the biggest barrier to development. Our attitudes and our prejudices affect how we work with people. I made it clear to one and all that using the word lazy to describe people – means that we are the ones that are lazy – we are lazy in our thinking; we are lazy in our answers. I expected each and every staff person to do what they said they could do without using the people as an excuse for not doing – anyone who couldn’t do this – well, Tabitha was not the place for them to be.
Dear friends and partners, Miriam and I have returned from our month long journey through Canada. Both of us are recovering from jet lag and culture shock. Our first 3 weeks in Canada were a shock as each morning we woke to a carpet of snow on the ground. April is not supposed to be like that. We ate and ate – everyone brought out their best and we enjoyed each morsel. We traveled far, talked with many and made new friends. Best of all was reuniting with family – a family reunion on the only warm day we had – 110 relatives and close friends. As Miriam says, it was our amazing day.
Dear friends and partners, Its been quite a wonderful month for us – 90 of our families got a new home – for the children of these families, a good night’s sleep is now a reality because they can all sleep inside the house with mom and dad – no more sleeping in the open, in the dark, listening for noises and wondering what it is – a snake, a cow, a robber. Its starting to rain again, for these 90 families it no longer matters – they no longer will sit up all night with their children, huddled in a corner, miserable and wet – waiting for the morning sun. This morning two of the moms came into my office – these women both live with AIDS – their faces shone with happiness, their bodies quivered with joy. Oh so very good.
Dear friends and partners, It seems like so very long ago, in 1994 that I answered a call from my God to start Tabitha Cambodia. That call was not an easy one, it meant giving up all that I had in so very many ways. It meant going against worldly wisdom - going against voices that urged me to be more rationale in my approach to life. Instead I believed that my God would keep His promises – which were that I would never be in need, that the family I gave up would be enhanced with one of my own and that I would have a place to call home.
Dear friends and partners, Happy New Years to each and every one of you. It’s a very good beginning for us this year as we begin our work after being closed for holidays. We came back to being able to work freely as there are enough funds to meet everyone’s needs. What a blessings you have brought to so many here.
Dear friends and partners, Holiday time is fast approaching and the season of hope and joy is near. Christmas is why Tabitha started – my faith in the birth of a child so long ago. It’s a story of faith and of hope. This season for us is marked with sadness and distrust. We had an attempted armed robbery by people we trusted a few weeks ago. Last week our advisor to the Prime Minster’s cabinet, a very good personal friend, died unexpectedly. Then news of some very good friends deciding to leave Cambodia left its mark.
Dear friends and partners, It’s a difficult letter I write today – it’s a letter dedicated to Som – one of our longest serving staff – a man who is suffering from heart failure. It is time to pay a tribute to Som, and to Marianne and to Dara and to so many who have helped us and been a part of us and have traveled on.
Dear friends and partners, Last month, the newsletter dwelled on the sadness poverty and the question that was asked was who will hear them when they cry? I said that you and I will hear them. We have just finished our annual report and I would like to share some of the ways we heard these people cry.