July Update from Tabitha Cambodia

Dear friends and partners,

It’s been a remarkable week.  Every so often I get to see the fruit of what I have done. Back in 1995, I and June Cunningham took over Cambodia House, an orphanage that had been abandoned by the person who established it. We had 32 children from under 1 to six years of age. As Tabitha was just beginning and Cambodia was still very unstable, we decided that running an orphanage was not what was best for the children and so we started a process of adoption. Over the next two years we placed all the children in adoptive families around the world.

In the ensuing years, many of the children and their families have returned to Cambodia for reunions and house building. It was good to watch these young people grow and mature. This summer marked another passage for these young people – they are either finishing high school or their first year at university. They came for a reunion – they came to house build. 

In the past, a number of these young people would talk about their desire to return to their birth country and work with the people here. They knew firsthand about the poverty and the suffering of so many. As they would say to us as parents, this could have been us. This summer was no different except that they are now young adults with a vision in mind. Several are training to be teachers, architects, contractors, etc.  Their adoptive siblings are also young adults who have caught the vision. What was clear was that house building was no longer enough. They wanted to continue impacting their birth country even while they were studying and developing skills. Over the past 6 months, these young people had done fund raising themselves and they had raised enough money for twenty houses. For them and their families it was fun and it was concrete. We talked about what they could do.

We talked about Theoun, one of our children, who had died in a tragic fire a year ago. We talked of his legacy, a school for impoverished children in Kompong Thom – a school that will be finished in August. They talked of their desire to also build a school. And so that is what they will do.

Theoun's School

My daughter Miriam is part of this process. She came home so very emotional about the impact of this past week. Mum, these are my brothers and sisters, she said. That’s what we call each other – we are all Cambodian, we are all adopted. We all want to help our fellow Cambodians. And their families mum, these are also my family. We know each other, we understand each other, and we take care of each other.  I wondered at her maturity. I want to be a doctor mum, or at least a nurse – then I too can come back and help.

Some of the 450 Students

As a parent, I often wonder if I am doing the right thing. As Cambodia House Chair I often wonder if I did the right thing. As founder and director of Tabitha I often wonder if we keep doing the right things– this week, I know it is right. 

I thank my God for the privileged life He has granted to me. I thank Him for these young people and their families for being a part of their lives. I thank my God for Miriam and her life. I thank my God for each of you – for being a part of all of this – for these young people and their families are also yours. We are doing the right thing. How good that is!



Follow Janne’s Journey with Breast Cancer

At the end of May, Janne Ritskes updated the Tabitha Singapore website with news of her early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. Please read a further message below from Janne for access to her personal blog. 

I am taken aback by the phenomenal support and response I have gotten from so many of you.  I am also a bit overwhelmed with your responses.  So many of you would like to know how it is all going, so with An Lee’s help – I have started a blog and you can keep up with the progress.

 The blog spot is: http://janneritskes.blogspot.com/