July 4, 2013

Dear friends and partners,

It is a delight to write to you this morning. Let me explain why. This week a good friend of mine, Corinne is in town with another house building team for Tabitha. Corinne and her husband Mike are strong supporters and have been coming for the past 4 years. Corinne was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of weeks ago – she is already a colon cancer survivor and now she has breast cancer. It is a daunting diagnosis. We were talking about what lies ahead and we were comparing notes. Both of us are survivors but more than that, we both have a positive look on life and all its ups and downs.

As we were comparing notes we talked about the options – why did I have a lumpectomy and she is having a double mastectomy – and the jokes began – on my last visit to the doctors – I had 6 mammograms done – it was not pleasant – and I am developing an aversion to my own breasts – I said I believed that mine had gained at least 2 inches in droopiness – Corinne laughed and said, see I will have new perky ones. We laugh because we can laugh – we laugh because we have options and we are in control of how we will fight and survive these obstacles.

Last week another friend, Glen Stretton was here and he had brought his son Harley, a young man who is rapidly becoming famous as a musician (his star name is Flume). Glen has come for a number of years on house building and made our first video clip about Nokor Tep. He asked Harley to come and see what is going on and to put on a concert for Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital. Glen also prepared to do a second video clip. In that process they interviewed several women in our projects – one was quite ill – Glen asked me – how do you feel when you leave a village with a woman so ill? At the moment, I am so sad – for this woman she has no options – she has no jokes to tell – she has no future to look forward to. She is not alone – there are millions of women in Cambodia for whom illness is a sentence of prolonged suffering and lingering death.  They are being held hostage by poverty – they are being held hostage by illness that can be diagnosed and treated – they are being held hostage because I cannot build Nokor Tep Women’s hospital fast enough.

It is a year ago that we gave our first payment to our contractor – a substantial payment – we were full of hope – full of excitement – it is all beginning. But sadly, we chose wrong – we chose a contractor that despite all their hype – loved money but hated to perform – they were always anxious for more money and more money – they were loathe to do anything and so they held us hostage – give us more they said, - but you have done nothing I said – and then they would do a little – give us more they said -, you haven’t done enough I said and then they would do a little more – and we came to an impasse. They were holding us hostage – and our dreams of turning tears into laughter, of turning pain into health were held in abeyance. For awhile – 12 long months - we allowed to let them hold us hostage – we allowed them to bring our spirits down.

This week we broke the bonds of hostage – we have taken back control – we  have started to do – this week we came back to the people that mean the most to us – we are starting anew with piles – 1,050 of them to be produced and installed within 9 weeks – starting August 7th. This time we will pay as we go - rather than pay and not go – how good is that – as each piece is done and piled –we will pay.  

This week we talked with people who live and work here – people who know how to do and will do it – people who do not hold us hostage.

This first stage will cost us $300,000.00 – people say how can you pay? On August 25th Bruce Ford and 12 other riders – unbelievable – this went from three riders last year to 13 riders this year – will do their Second Annual Ridethon – 1000 kilometers through Cambodia – to raise funds for Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital. Their goal is to raise $250,000 in sponsorship – we need $300,000.00 – now wouldn’t this be miraculous – just as we are taking control that Bruce and his compatriots would be able to raise these funds –just click on this link and give them your support - http://www.facebook.com/RideForNokorTep

Our 1 in a Million Campaign is continuing until Christmas – click onto this link


People ask me how you are going to staff this hospital – with Cambodians who will be trained by specialists – specialists like Sachi – who is a surgeon from Singapore. Sachi came last month and we talked – he is a quiet spoken man with great confidence and his specialty is key hole surgery. Oh my! what a hope this is as it would mean that our women may be able to have much needed surgery that will not result in long hospital stays. Of course I am a dreamer and I dream of endless possibilities – dreams of perhaps finding a way through this kind of surgery that would allow life saving chemotherapy to be applied directly on a tumor – and kill the bad cells and leave the rest healthy. Sachi asked if we could send doctors to Singapore – I said no, I want doctors to come here and train a dozen doctors at a time rather than just one.

There are so many needs and so many answers. Sometimes people would like to hold us hostage to all the negative sides of life – to all the what ifs – and what nots. I believe that our answers are not the negatives but what are the endless possibilities – we have met and are meeting so many people who will help us loosen the bonds of hostage for the women here.

My God is great – He has given me all the opportunities when illness strikes, He has given me vision and strength – how good that is. For Corinne the next six months are daunting ones – the process is never easy – we joke hair jokes – but we are both assured by our own faiths that all will be well. Corinne has also decided to break the bonds of hostage for the women here. I thank all of you – so very many of you for standing with us, for keeping the faith, for walking together as we break the bonds of poverty and of illness for so many women. How good is that!!




Stories of Cambodian Women


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