Dear Friends and Partners
This week was one of those weeks when I had the opportunity to visit communities in transition and to visit with new families in the program. September marks the beginning of our new programme year but words don’t describe so very well what is going on and how it works, so forgive me for the many pictures I took to show the process.
In the village of Leuk Dak the atmosphere was one of change: we started here 5 years ago when the village was simply a compilation of thatch shacks. Many families had sold their land and belongings because of illnesses such as AIDS and cancer. Families lived two to three families per thatch house – life was extremely difficult.
Over the next two years each family was granted a 10 meter square piece of land by the government. Tabitha built houses for the families. All were in savings, some were more energetic than others. Grief and despair are hard to overcome.
This week I met so many of these families. Sina is the village teacher and a true model, she and her husband are never still. Her husband is always doing things to earn an income, things like buying and selling bread or fish –Sina always teaching and starting a small business. Over the past five years they slowly rebuilt their house – it is beautiful to see – not yet completed, but their sense of well being is palpable.
As we walked through the village Sohka showed us her cricket business. We had suggested that those without land raise crickets and so they did. For the past year and a half all the families earned enough to be able to buy a small piece of land for rice growing. This year we are in drought and with the drought new viruses pop up and the black crickets all died. For most, it was a move back to despair but not for Sohka – she had heard that red crickets were less subject to disease. She showed us her small plastic bowls filled with red cricket eggs – they would hatch this weekend so they were cleaning the cricket pen. In 3 weeks she has faith that there will be once again 100 kilos of crickets to sell. Her smile was contagious. Across the road, her neighbor Khun was struggling to raise her family. She has no land but instead expanded her Tabitha house to include a pool table. Next door, Chet was building the bottom of her Tabitha house and adding a new toilet. All so very good.
We left and went to our next village a few kilometres down the road. It was definitely a Tabitha village with Tabitha houses dotting the skyline. Here the families had all lived in misery but now, with the savings and the houses and field wells, lives were changing. In this year of drought, these families planted vegetables using an ingenious irrigation system. The vegetable were in all stages some being harvested, some being planted and some just growing. The people were delighted to show us what changes it all has made in their lives, adding to their homes – building toilets, creating a simple yet effective irrigation system. All were looking forward to their next accomplishments. How good that is.
All these families are in the process of moving from absolute poverty to being middle class rural Cambodians. We spent time in a new village of 267 families, families that are just beginning to think of ways of how to change their lives. It is a good to see them at the beginning and it will be good to see them five years from now.
This year is a new beginning for many families – this year is a movement to the next phase for others – this year we thank you for your making it happen. It will cost us $20 to help families make these changes through savings and $250 to speed up the process with field wells. This year, Tabitha Cambodia has advanced as well. This year you can now donate either through your home country or directly to us. As it is all new sometimes it doesn’t always work as smoothly as it should. Like Tabitha Cambodia, like the families we work with, we are an imperfect but always forward moving group- so it is with the Online process.
This week, I am reminded of God’s grace in my life, of how He has allowed me the privilege of standing with so many like Sina, Sokha and others. People who live life to the fullest, who work hard, who have learned to never give up even when things go wrong. It is a year of drought, of hunger, of internal and external migration. It is also a year of overcoming, of standing beside, of leaning on each other. It is a year when we ask all of you to stand with us, to learn with us, to encourage each other. How good that is!
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