October 2012

October 31, 2012

Dear friends and partners,

Today is the birthday of Cambodia’s late King Sihanouk – who passed away two weeks ago. It’s been a time of mourning for the people of Cambodia. For older people like my staff Chao Da it is a time of trauma. The passing of the King marks the end of an era of turmoil, uncertainty, tremendous suffering and pain. For Chao Da and so many others who remember the time of goodness before the turmoil, the King was always there – through all the years of uncertainty, the one sure thing was the presence of the King – for Chao Da and so many others, trauma marks his days as his fears return – he is afraid that Cambodia will pass as the King has passed. He is afraid that the turmoil will all return.

For Sieng there is a deep sense of loss - of emptiness – but there is also hope. The King Father prepared Cambodia for his passing – he abdicated and placed his son King Sihamoni on the throne. It is the end of an era – one marked with deep sadness and emptiness – but also a new era marked by hope and renewal. My heart hurts to see their pain – I am encouraged by their hope.

It is a time of sadness for a number of our families. A family like Von Savvy. She is a young mother – 22 years old. She was pregnant with her second child in July. Like so many other women, Von Savvy was working in her fields planting rice when she felt faint and fell – it was clear all was not well – Von Savvy was transferred to a hospital where she gave birth to her son – 3 months too early – she could no longer breathe on her own, she received a breathing tube – her neighbors, her family, the village chief – everyone gave money to make it possible. But it was not enough. Her husband sold all that they owned – all they had bought through savings – at first the small things like TV, battery, table, chairs, bed – and then their land – and finally their house. All is gone – there is nothing left. Von Savvy’s mother-in-law is angry – she blames the baby – the baby has brought misfortune – the baby must go. I am saddened for there is not much I can do – too many people – too much suffering – surely this must change! If only the hospital had been built!

Von Savvy    Mother in law

It is a time of joy for 480 children – their new school was completed and opened this past month. What excitement as the donors, Corinne and Mike came to see – what an excitement for the students to show their work – written ever so neatly in their notebooks – what an excitement to see a 16 year old sitting in grade 3 – what an excitement to see the grade 5 students re-learning the alphabet – before – school had been sporadic for all of them – the building had rotted – rain kept everyone away – but now all the students come all the time and the serious business of learning to read and write – the serious business of learning numbers, of learning about the world outside their village has begun in earnest. I am so thankful – for these young people – a new era has begun.

New School      Classroom

I am was amazed at the boldness of the staff – we would like to show our donors just one more place – one more school – it is not far away. As we travelled through the area I was amazed at the transformation taking place in these communities were we work. Three long years of savings, wells, house building teams – the fields were bursting with rice but – the wonder of the houses changing stunned me – small patched work thatched houses being slowly replaced by sturdy cement houses, Tabitha houses built by teams being transformed into larger homes with cement lower floors and extensions in the back – I rejoiced as a new era had come for so many. An era of hope and pride, an ear where hard work was resulting in the dreams of all people all over the world – a safe home,  secure sources of income – of the future filled with possibilities rather than simply waiting for a time to die. It is so very good.

Old building     

Mara, our manager in Kampot – boldly showed the next school – he invited Corrine and Mike to come and to understand – 2 rooms of battered cement – filled with too many children – then to see the building next door – made of cement and wood – no floors – no complete walls – only one room useable – all the rooms were dangerous – when it rained – no one comes to school – the threat of a child being hurt by falling debris is just too great. We just need 6 rooms – that is all we need! Corrine and Mike looked and saw, they heard and felt – and then they made their promise – yes, we can help. I am humbled yet again by all of you donors but as we talk I think of all the other schools that are needed – all the other children waiting to learn. I have great faith that this too will happen.

Old school      Students

As usual, my life is full of emotions, full of dreams met, and dreams in process – full of people whom I call friends – some who are in great need and others who have a great capacity to give. I stand in wonder to see how my God has filled my life with fullness – the fullness of his creation, his people who are all of us as we stand together. I am so thankful,


Tabitha Cambodia
#239, St 51,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Ph: 023-721-238
email: Tabitha.janne@forum.org.kh