February 15, 2012

Dear friends and partners,

It is 2 o’clock in the morning and I am suffering from jet lag- it is more than jet lag – I am suffering from a heart that is filled with a deep sense of humbleness and awe at all that has happened in the past few weeks. Miriam and I arrived home safely yesterday from our trip to Paris where I received the Veuve Cliquot Award last Saturday night.

Our trip to Paris was a trip that neither of us will ever forget. We won’t forget it because it was so bitterly cold while we were there – we won’t forget it because we were spoiled with people who made sure we saw as much of Paris as possible – a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower, or seeing some of the sights like a personalized tour of Notre Dame – we won’t forget it because of receiving the award – a special evening with special people. We won’ forget it because we were met by people whom we didn’t know yet whom we became friends and family with because we have the same heart. We won’t forget it because of the continuing miracle of Tabitha and the Nokor Tep vision.

A few weeks ago we began planning for our walkathon to raise funds and awareness for Nokor Tep Women’s hospital to be held on March 24th here in Phnom Penh. The miracle began when a dozen of my friends here joined with me to form a committee to plan the event – friends who never asked what’s in it for me – friends whose support and enthusiasm make it all seem so easy despite all the work involved.

Two weeks ago I presented the concept of the walkathon to Tabitha staff and workers – all of whom have lived through indescribable horrors – men and women who have known pain that is beyond understanding – men and women who survived against all odds. As I explained the concept of a walkathon to raise funds to build the hospital – there were tears in the eyes of many – this is about us they said in awe – we will build this together. For many the idea of raising funds is very new – they come out of deep poverty – yet the idea of a hospital for themselves as women – for their wives and daughters, sisters and aunts – was awe inspiring. They all asked for sponsor sheets and held those papers as if they were made of gold.

The next day we had a house building team arrive from the Netherlands. For the second year in a row they presented us with the gift of an extra hundred houses and 50 wells. They listened as I shared about Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital and the walkathon. On the spot they decided to sponsor every worker at Tabitha for $10 each. As our women lined up to have their sponsor sheets signed by this gracious gesture – there were tears in their eyes – tears of thankfulness and awe – and then applause. I was shaken by the deep emotion of these, our women and men, who have suffered so much.

Two days before we left for Paris I flew to Singapore to meet with a corporation who had given over 500 wells in the past year. As I shared the impact of their grace for so many of our families, Steve, the Regional CEO asked that I share about Nokor Tep Hospital- Eleanor, Sharon and Lisa were with me – women who selflessly have given their time to run Tabitha Singapore and now have set up Nokor Tep Foundation Singapore. They too, had set up a walkathon for March the 8th to raise funds for the hospital - as I shared this with the leaders of this corporation they decided on the spot that they too would walk. How can this be – a multinational corporation whose leaders and staff will take a half day off in the middle of a work week to walk so that the hospital for women in Cambodia can be built? I have never heard of such a thing – my heart was full.

I came back to Phnom Penh for a few hours – time to pack and pick up Miriam for our trip to Paris. In those short hours – I talked with several of our sewers – women who live in areas where poverty is still rife – and they shared their stories. They had gone house to house – shack to shack - they had told their neighbors and friends of this miracle in the making – this vision of a hospital for women – a vision that needed all of them to achieve. They were met with tears and with offerings of 500 and 1000 reils – ten to twenty cents – at the end of the day they had collected $35.00. Everyone had understood the vision and their need is great. I was awestruck by this generosity given by those who have so very little.

When we arrived in Paris we were met by Clydette and Charles – people whom I had never met – people who had recommended me for the award. Over the next 4 days we were surrounded by their grace. One evening they had a few people come into their home to meet me. I shared the work of Tabitha and the vision of Nokor Tep hospital. Miriam was with me and shyly asked for sponsors for her walk and all graciously responded – within 30 minutes she had collected $900 dollars. Then Michael came to me – send me the papers about the hospital – I am a member of a small foundation and we will donate $25,000. Karen came to me – I am a hiker she said, I will have a hikathon on the same day that you have your walkathon- March 24th. How can this be – in the space of several hours – people whom I had just come to know –have given so generously for women they did not know? My heart was full.

The next morning – Clydette and Charles came with news – a private Foundation would match every dollar we raised by double that amount – up to $500,000.00 – I couldn’t quite grasp what they were saying – this foundation wanted to encourage all of us to unite in raising funds for the Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital by a double match of all funds raised. My heart stood still – that meant that Miriam’s sponsorship of $900 suddenly became $2700.

Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital is suddenly becoming reality – as soon as we have our first million dollars we will begin to build – my heart is so very full. I came home yesterday and shared this news – Tuit, Miriam’s nanny – had been out every day talking with all her friends in the markets – she had raised $300 dollars while were gone – this means that my money is now $900 – she asked – and then the tears came – we held each other for a long time – our vision of comfort and healing for women who have no voice – who have no choice – is happening.

I am a woman who is filled with awe this morning - a woman who is so thankful to my God for His unceasing mercy – who fills my life with such grace. I want to start building Nokor Tep Women’s hospital as soon as possible – I want to stop the silent suffering of so many. It is a selfish desire that wracks my bones. I invite all of you to join us in this miracle in the making – the building of Nokor Tep Women’s hospital. For every dollar you donate - $2 more dollars will be given. I am awed by this gift. Thank you for listening and for being a part of this grace.


Stories of Cambodian Women


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