One Family’s Journey

Dear friends and partners,

This past week we had a special visitor – Andre Leu has worked for 40 years in the development world and has visited development and agriculture projects throughout the world. Andre speaks in almost every country and addresses the UN on various development issues. With this kind of resume, we were not sure what to expect. What a delight to meet a humble and gentle soul – one who has seen much and done much. For myself it was a delight to speak with someone who understood what we were doing without a lengthy explanation.

Andre was fascinated by our savings program – a program that impacts the way the poor look at themselves and look at how to achieve simple but positive goals. He interviewed a number of families from various project areas – what was life like before Tabitha and savings and what was it like now. I would like to share just one family’s journey.

Tev Seahvey has been in the savings program for 10 years. As she told Andre – before she started working with Tabitha she was truly miserable – life was very difficult with just one meal a day  – one rice crop a year. When we arrived at her home, we were greeted by 12 cows sleeping peacefully, 4 sows which are in different phases of pregnancy, ducks and chickens. On the outside of the home was a small pond with a thousand fish which they kept exclusively for  home use, trees with edible leaves, plants of okra, long beans etc .

Seven (7) people currently live in the home – her daughter is expecting her second child – this child would be born in a maternity clinic – an amazing achievement. Andre asked about the impact of the well she had received. Her rice crop yield had changed from just 10 sacks of rice for the one harvest per year to 30 sacks per harvest – three times a year or 90 sacks in total. The next question concerned the cost of pesticides and fertilizers – the answers came with quiet pride – 90% of the fertilizer came from animal manure and leaves from certain trees – she had to buy 10% fertilizer because growing crops year round meant she couldn’t develop enough manure.

The pesticides used were homemade and she recited her recipe – this included leaves from certain trees, lemongrass as well as chilli peppers – where had she learned this – well, she had been able to pay school fees and her son had learned this at school.

The house was full of belongings, clothes, cooking utensils, farming equipment – all bought and paid for over the years. There was a rather unique water filtering system for clean, cold water. There were bicycles and motorbikes, there were happy faces and healthy bodies. struck me most was quiet pride – she spoke calmly and looked us in the eye – she was not to afraid to answer. What a difference from when I first met her- her head was down and her voice nothing but a soft whisper.

I want to thank you Andre for coming – for hearing all of us when we spoke – for understanding the miracle of  Tev  Seahevy and the very many others like her – some just beginning – some where the changes are a constant journey – some who have the time to sit and chat with us – to be one with us.

I thank all of you who have believed in us – in the miracle of savings – of the gift of life that a water source brings – of the passage of time that allows people to develop a good life –  a life of dignity and quiet pride.  I thank my God for that privilege – how good that is.

Janne Ritkses
Founder and Director

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