Me working with Tabitha in 1999. Damn, what was I wearing???
In fact, the image at the top of this post is me helping to install a roof. And above is teenage Nick.
Note to everyone: I have to apologise for the unforgivable, terrible fashion choices on display here as a skinny 16 year old. You can’t see it in the top photo, but the hat I’m wearing had a mini solar panel on the top and a fan blowing onto my face. What was I thinking???
Tabitha was originally set up to help the people of Cambodia rebuild their lives after the genocide of the 1970s Khmer Rouge. This especially affected women, who often suffered incredible psychological trauma and were going through life in a state of continuous shock.
Fortunately, over the last two decades those memories have moved farther away, and the country is taking strides to develop itself.
Nowadays, the main development focus of Tabitha is in schools, small-scale savings programmes, cottage industry, house building and a women’s hospital.
But its most pressing issue is one you wouldn’t expect for a country in South-East Asia: severe drought and access to water.
The country is currently experiencing a country-wide drought which is the worst in decades. And even when the rains do come, the water it brings isn’t good enough for the people which need it.
The average distance to walk for safedrinking / cooking water in teh country is 3 kilometers. This means that several members of the family are required to wake at 4 in the morning, walk to the water source and then wait their turn for water – usually 3 to 4 hours. This precludes a number of children from attending school.
So Tabitha’s current focus is on drilling simple but effective wells for families and communities to reach groundwater, which can not only be used for domestic needs but also irrigate their small farm patches. Families with wells or ponds grow “6-week’ vegetables, including “morning glory”, peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. throughout the dry season as well as summer rice. Animal husbandry, the raising of pig, chickens, ducks are an integral part of income generation from wells. Their productive growth seasons expand from 6 months to an average of 11 months per year thereby tripling a family’s consumable income as well as providing food security.
How I chose to help
When I decided that I wanted to continue supporting Tabitha from my current work, I wanted to find a way where they would share in the my success.
So I decided on a very simple f