November 2012

Dear friends and partners,

It is the beginning of a season of anticipation - of Christmas – a season of expectation, of dreams to come – it’s a season of new beginnings – a season of remembering the year past and looking forward to the year ahead.

With all anticipation – the desires for what is to come cannot come soon enough. For Nokor Tep the anticipation of sinking our first foundation piling is filling me with angst – how soon – what day – for it is the visible beginning of a vision so dear to my heart – yet so far to go.

I am filled with anticipation for the bringing of comfort to so many women who are waiting. I am too late for Sem Sai. Siem Sai was 49 years old. She had ten children, five daughters and five sons – three children are married but seven children still live at home. Siem Sai Houer went to a local midwife seven years ago when she gave birth to a baby – the mid wife used a dirty knife and she became very ill she started to bleed very heavily. The family sold their cow, their land and some rice paddy in order for Hoeur to go to the provincial hospital. They couldn’t help her. Now she has become an invalid and is unable to help her family. She became breathless – her husband was very angry with her and her illness. Sem Sai Hoeur is losing hope – she was waiting.  Her waiting is now over. She died this past week – a woman alone – with no one to hear her cries.


In Cambodia there is a set of rules for women’s behaviors – it is called “chhap srey”. These rules dictate how a woman should behave. A woman should be silent – should not talk of her problems to others, should serve her husband first – should not make noise inside the home. A woman must be a shadow – a fleeting figure in a man’s world. Sem Sai was chhap srey until the suffering was too much. She told us of her pain – of her anticipation of being heard – of her anticipation of comfort and solace. I was too late.

I am in anticipation of all the thousands of new women we will meet – women 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!


I am in anticipation of not standing alone in this vision of ours. So many of you are standing with us through the purchasing of a brick, a meter, or a plaque – would that not be a wonderful gift for that special person of yours who has everything – and needs a gift that will bring hope to thousands of women?

I am in anticipation of our broadening of our vision – we cannot be strong by ourselves but we can be unbeatable together. So we are looking for patrons – people, organizations and communities who will help us to protect, promote, be involved with and ensure that our vision will always be strong – that the voices of millions of women will be heard. If you like to know what it is to be a patron – go to our website at

I am in anticipation of this Christmas season – a season where I celebrate my faith – my God. I am in anticipation of a new year that lies ahead – a year of taking steps forward to hear the silent suffering of so many. I am in anticipation of having all of you walk with us as we move forward. How very good that is!


Stories of Cambodian Women


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