May 2015

Dear Friends and partners,

It is that time of year when schools in the region have received their final school calendar – why is that so important? It is important for us at Tabitha so that house building teams can send us their dates for next year’s build and we can plan accordingly. House building involves young people, middle aged people and the older, young at heart folks coming from all parts of the world to help build houses for families who may not get a house without their help. The impact of the houses on our families is immense. In Cambodia people believe that to die in their home will ensure a safe passage to the next life.

A few years ago, a team came and built for some of our families. At the end of house building we have a simple ceremony handing the houses over to the families. It is a time when we are reminded what a gift these families have given to us – the volunteers. It is the gift of a privilege – the privilege of sharing but a small part of our lives with our families here. We need to be reminded of this as often we come with the belief that we somehow  we have a right to do this – that we are entitled to not only build but to be treated as special people simply because we came. It is our time in this small ceremony to thank the families for allowing us to come and to help finish a small home.

It is also the time for the families to thank us – to try and express in some small way, the gift they have received from our volunteers. These expressions are all very similar in content but expressed in various ways. At this particular handing over ceremony – one of the women spoke. She was in her mid-forties, raising her own 6 children as well as helping to raise 6 orphans from the village. She had developed cataracts and it was difficult to see the world clearly. She said to the team: “you will forget us in 6 months or a year and that is right – you have busy and full lives. But -on the day that I die – it is your face that I will see. Thank you for that gift”.  For her and all our families, the gift of a permanent home – a house that will allow them to be safe – to live with dignity – to die in peace, is truly a gift beyond measure.

For us at Tabitha Cambodia – house building is about friendships between very different peoples and backgrounds – it is an opportunity to learn about dignity and about respect for each other – it is about change – a change of attitude from those who have so little to realize that those of us who have so much are capable of doing hard physical labor – of us, who have so much, beginning to understand the strength and skills of those who have so little. It is a time of realizing our own inner strength as volunteers work in a hot climate doing unfamiliar and physical labor – realizing at the end of the build that we can do so much more than we thought we were capable of. It is a time of realization for our families -how different life is when the entire family can sleep under one roof – what it’s like to sleep through rain – what’s it’s like to not have to worry about flooding and losing life – a new sense of freedom and dignity.

I thank my God for my own home and safety, I thank my God for all you volunteers who come and share your life with so many here. If you are planning to come house building over the next 12 months, take a moment and send us your dates and where you would like to build. want to thank all of you who are unable to build but support financially the teams that come. It is all so very good.


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