Janne Ritskes is the founder and unfatiguable power behind Tabitha Cambodia.
There is no peace in the family as her suffering increases. There can be no peace in the community as her suffering envelopes all. For the woman, there can be no peace as her illness affects her body – her relationships – her fears for the future and when the pain is too much – it affects her dying process – she is robbed of the opportunity to die in peace.
In May 2010 I discovered that I had breast cancer – my first reaction was – how very inconvenient – in my adopted country of Cambodia there is no reliable source of treatment for breast cancer –I am a busy woman – treatment would mean having to leave the country on a regular basis and that did not sit well with my nature. So I was angry on the inconvenience of it all.
My second reaction was more meaningful. As I shared the news with friends and family in our Tabitha circles – I received a lot of emails and phone calls – the general tenor of these messages were – why you? My reaction immediately was and still is -why not? What makes me so special, so different from everyone else? I could find no legitimate answer because you see, I am a woman of faith – and one of the tenets of my faith is that we are all equal in God's eyes – we are all of the same value before Him – how then could I be special? What struck me was the injustice of it all – I was deemed to be of more value than those with whom I work. Cambodian women of ordinary stature - did they not deserve the same as I? Are they not of the same value in God's eyes? My answer is that they are of the same value and as deserving as I am of treatment when they become ill.
So I decided to build a cancer hospital. I shared this vision with my co-founders, HE Ing Kantha Phavi and HE Trac Thai Sieng. Phavi's response really shook me – her immediate response was no – this too was her dream as a woman and we would do it together. Phavi's and Sieng's wisdom tempered mine – she said, we must be selective of who we treat, otherwise we will become overwhelmed with the needs and not do well.
We selected women because women are the mainstay of all societies – women give birth and nurture their children, they are often bread winners or ensure that their spouse puts food on the table. Women will forgo eating if there is not enough food to go around, women will fight for their children to protect them from harm and fear – women put everyone's else's needs first – it is an inherent part of their nature.
Over the year that I was undergoing treatments we refined our vision into Nokor Tep Women's Hospital with the capacity to be a teaching hospital, a research facility as well as a center of excellence for treating women's illnesses including women's cancer. The diagnoses, treatments, education and research will be carried out to the farthest parts of Cambodia through mobile clinics – these mobile clinics will enable us to screen, treat women in their home villages and for those who need intensive medical care – we will bring to the hospital.
Justice is at the core of our vision – justice means fairness and equity for all – unfortunately we have to restrict our justice to women in the first instance. Our vision is that once the women's health programs are running well, then the men. What about children – there are a number of hospitals already set up and reaching out to the children in Cambodia.
Our vision is about bringing peace – when a woman is ill – there can be no peace. There is no peace in the family as her suffering increases. There can be no peace in the community as her suffering envelopes all. For the woman, there can be no peace as her illness affects her body – her relationships – her fears for the future and when the pain is too much – it affects her dying process – she is robbed of the opportunity to die in peace.
Nokor Tep Women's Hospital is about bringing justice and peace to women in Cambodia who have had neither for the past 40 years. Stand with us as we move forward.
Born on April 22,1948 in Smilde, Drenthe, Netherlands
Immigrated to Canada 1951
Number 9 in a family of 11 children
Father – Renze Ritskes – Deceased 1967
Mother: Roeloftje Klok – Deceased – 1997
Brockville Collegiate Institute and Vocational School;Brockville, Ont. 1964-67; Grade 11
Algonquin College; Ottawa, Ont. 1971-72 - Business Courses
Calvin College and Seminary; Grand Rapids, MI, USA. 1976-80: B/A Sociology and Psychology
Salesclerk - Woolworths, Brockville, 1967-68
Salesclerk - Zellers, Brockville,1968-69
Advertising Manager - JP Pascal, Ottawa, 1969-71
Assistant Manager - Cartier Discount, Brockville,1971-1973
Store Manager - J-R Business Equipment, Brockville, 1973-76
Program Manager - Degage Coffeehouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979
Project Manager - Christian Reformed World Relief Committee,
(CRWRC) Manila, Philippines, 1980-88
Project Manager - Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Nairobi, Kenya, 1988-91
Country Workups in Romania and US/Mexican Border, 1991-1992
Training Manager, World Vision International, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, 1992-94
Cambodia Director, Tabitha Foundation, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, Sept 1994.
Northern Manila Association of Christian Service Groups, Manila, Philippines
Southern Cavite Association of Christian Service Groups, Cavite, Philippines
Dorcas Cottage Industries, Manila, Philippines
Co-founder of Christian Cottage Imports, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA and Guelph, Ontario, Canada Tabitha Foundation; Ontario, Canada
October 1994 until Present: Founder/Director of TABITHA- Cambodia.
Member of Christian Reformed Denomination
Summer Workshop in Missions Volunteer Program, Halifax, NS, summer of 1967
Secretary of Young People's Society, Brockville, 1963-67; Softball, 1964-78, Basketball; 1973-76.
Writing; Reading; Sports; Singing.
Cambodian Citizenship: 1999
Single Mother: Adopted Miriam Rose Ritskes, January 17, 1999 - DOB: 1/11/1998 – Phnom Penh
See more at: http://www.nokor-tep.net/index.php/about-us/founders#sthash.1HwRPjkQ.dpuf