March 28,2013

Dear friends and partners,

With this newsletter, I would like to share a few thoughts with you. This Easter time has provided me with a few spare moments to reflect on who I am, what I am doing and why I am doing it.

My passion for the people of Cambodia started many years ago when the bombing and genocide were taking place in this country. I knew then as I know today, that this is the country I must serve. I am a woman of extraordinary passion - that makes me different from many others. My passion is rooted in the pain I see in others - pain that I know I can impact and not turn away from.

Like all people, I am terribly ignorant of all the types of pain people suffer. I have also discovered over the past 35 years that helping to ease pain is something which is learned not from books but from life itself. Over the years I have learned the pitfalls of community development. I have also learned that there are better ways to do it - not because some book told me or some professor taught it - but because I could see and feel whether or not what I did actually alleviated the pain.

I learned over all these years that the cost to myself in some ways was enormous - but in so many other ways - was as nothing. As long as I persevered and was faithful doing what I knew was right - not for me - but for the people I serve. The learning has not always been easy - starting Tabitha I had only one other person who believed in me - not in what I was going to do - but in me. My brother John said to me, sis, I will help you but understand me - no matter how many will stand with you - you are alone - it is your vision - your faith that will make this happen - we can only stand with you.

Tabitha is my vision and drive, and every aspect of Tabitha came about through personal knowledge of the pain and suffering of others - savings is the only way to help those who stand and live in fear – their choices – no threats  - cottage industry I knew was the only way for women who had their dignity stolen from them through sexual violence and abuse - being handed an orphanage full of children filled with pain gave me no choice but to find them a home - my gorgeous daughter - a defiled child - a throw away - I had no other choice - house building I learned from people who had no home and from people who needed to serve - water programs came from the death of one of my staff who on his death bed said - they need water Janne, give them water - schools came from people who needed to serve, and from children surrounding me because there was no school, or space, or money - Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital came because I suffered and it was my own suffering that made me so aware of the suffering of women here.

In all these instances there was one clear marker for me - I could do something about the pain - and once I knew that - I never had any other choice but to do so. Doing less would take away who I am - it would make me empty. I am who I am - the visions I have, and the work I must do. I can only do it.

I know that for many my visions at times seem to be far-fetched, yet I must be who I am - I know I can make a difference in the lives of millions of women through the women’s hospital. It is not an easy task - nor a quick one - but it is one I must do - I have no other choice.

And yes, people will stand with me in this vision - people we know and people we have yet to come to know - and each person will add and be a part of that vision - for some, in ways they never imagined - nor I imagined. And that is good - for that is what life is all about.

My inner strength and conviction comes from my God who has been and always will be with me. In that sense my brother was wrong. I have never been alone. I am grateful to each and every one you for joining me on my journey and sharing my vision for the people of Cambodia.

From my heart I thank you - and I hope this Easter season is peaceful and joyous.





Stories of Cambodian Women


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