Janne's October update
October 2017 – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Dear friends and partners,
Good morning. This past week I was in Singapore doing my talking rounds. One of the Events was called Bubbles and Bling put on by Tabitha Singapore – it was a very lovely event with 95 women attending. When it came time to talk to the women – I thought - how do I make clear to these women our needs for the hospital? Very few people I know have funds that could cover such big purchases- how can I make it possible to achieve our dreams with women such as I?
So I made a challenge to these women – I asked each woman present to have a private event – perhaps a dinner – and invite a group of people specifically to learn about the needs of women in Cambodia – very few of whom have any access to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment – a right that each of us take for granted. I challenged each woman to raise $2000 at these private events – if each did so I would have one mammogram machine. But we need two so I challenged each woman to do two events – then I would have 2 machines. The noise level in the room increased substantially as every woman in the room began to discuss how they could do this. The challenge has been taken up. The goal is to have the funds for two mammogram machines by the end of November – enough time for us to order and receive the machines before our soft opening on March 8.
The previous evening was another special event - Torie and Michael put on a Trivia Night called Insurance Trivia Wars. What an evening it was – I was put on a table called the Uninsurable – how very appropriate as I am uninsurable since my breast cancer bout. It truly reflected the Cambodian women that I work with – not only are the uninsurable but undeserving of even basic cancer care. That evening 120 representatives of various insurance companies came and heard – came and played- very noisy group and at the end we were $23,000 closer to our vision for Nokor Tep to be a reality.
So why share this with all of you – so many of you who are so faithful in your support – because we need an MRI – we need a Cat Scan – CT – we need 2 exray machines – none of which are cheap but are very necessary.
So I have a challenge for all of you – if each one of you were to have a private event which would raise $2000 – I would have enough to buy at least two of these machines – if each of you did two private events – then I would have enough to buy all the machines – what an extra-ordinary gift that would be. I would need all these completed before the end of November so that I could order the machines and ave them installed before our soft opening on March 8.
Yesterday we had a remarkable first at the hospital – 17 young volunteers came and helped paint the hospital. It was very challenging as the students learned how to paint in an orderly fashion. This was all in preparation for a group of 400 Cambodia young people coming for a day in November to help paint the hospital.
What was so very poignant about all of this is that one of my-cofounders Sieng was deeply touched by these young people. He wrote a short note which he shared with me.
“My youth as a young volunteer of the Red Cross in 1972. I was 15. To all volunteers…. Digging latrines in 1972 for refugees taking asylum at the apron of Monivong bridge led me to return to Cambodia to serve my people and more importantly to co-found with Phavi and Janne Ritskes, Nokor Tep, The Women Hospital. The dirt, the sweat of refugees and the bad smell of unburied feces, all contributed to the awakening of a teenager conscience, to building up his service to the people. Most of my friends died during the Pol Pot Régime - three or four of them did live to serve the people as doctors and social leaders. All of us kept the flame to make the difference for the benefit of the society.” What a privileged life I live – I am surrounded by people of many nations – of many backgrounds – all of us working together to give life and hope to the women of Cambodia. I am humbled that my God would think me worthy of such gifts – I am humbled by the grace of each of you. It cannot get any better!