September 30, 2015

Dear Friends and Partners,

Tomorrow is the beginning of October – a month where Breast Cancer is a focal point. For myself, it is a strong reminder of my own fight with breast cancer five years ago. It was a fight that inspired the vision of Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital here in Cambodia – a vision of compassion for women for whom breast cancer is a sure pathway to a slow, undignified and painful death.

Unlike myself and so many of us, health care is not a given in Cambodia - it is not a right. What if you and I had no choices – we had no rights? I know the indignity involved with mammograms and pap smears and being poked and prodded in places that for women cause embarrassment and shame – yet, despite the discomfort and embarrassment involved – it saved my life and that of countless women in many parts of the world. This is not so for Cambodia.

This past weekend – the miracle of hope for women here took on new strength – a new faith in the vision. My co-founders Phavi and Sieng are devout Buddhists. In this tradition they held a ceremony called Bon Phkaa Samaki . This ceremony is one where people are invited to come together and work together to complete a task – for us, it was to help complete the building of Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital. 


People of all classes of life came and participated – it was a time of peace – of contentment. It was also a time of tears – as we walked through the building under construction – I explained what each space would do –many women had tears in their eyes – tears of wonder – of excitement – of hope.

This morning, as I shared the success of the ceremony (USD37,000 and counting) with our staff and workers at Tabitha, tears flowed freely and hugs in abundance as the women spoke of the hope and faith of a place where they could come in the future – a place of safety for all women in Cambodia to share their hidden pain and shame – a place of comfort and shelter -  a place of peace.

This morning I received news from some of you in Canada – who stood up for the right of women here to have hope – the Just For a Day campaign for the hospital – the first of its kind in Canada – family , friends and people we don’t even know – walking, running and just coming together to stand with our women here.(My two families as one - the family that raised me – the family I serve) – and I marvel at this gift. 

In two weeks I am off to Australia where Australians will have several events to raise awareness and funds so that women here will have the right to health care. The Cambodian Australians in Melbourne will also have a Bon Phkaa Samaki event – and I am humbled. How good is this, when people of varying faiths, of varying opportunities to healthcare – stand together as one – stand together to bring peace and comfort to millions of Cambodian women who do not have this right.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month – I have a vision – a vision to complete the construction of Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital by the end of 2016 .  I have a vision that all of us together can do this. I am grateful to my God for His grace in my life; I stand in awe of how this grace works in and through all of us.

How very good that is!


Stories of Cambodian Women


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