As hard as it is to believe, November is here again and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For the first time in 10 years I am actually celebrating Thanksgiving here in the US, a strange experience after years of trying desperately to find a turkey dinner in Cambodia! The truth is that I’ve struggled to write this letter because living in California again I feel further from the amazing projects and daily inspiration of JWOC. Then I realized, this is how our donors and supporters feel!
It’s hard when I’m here to remember the villages that didn’t have clean water, but always had a smile; the scholarship students who every time they saw me ran up and told me about their latest accomplishment and the hundreds of students that flock into our school to study English, learn basic IT or just to read a book in our peaceful and clean library. Like everyone I’m consumed by my own kids’ lives, my work, getting dinner on the table and in the day- to-day business of life, and I forget the everyday struggle so many people face in Southeast Asia and the amazing work that JWOC does to help them better their lives.
This year alone we’ve brought clean water to 13,000 children in Siem Reap through our Clean Water for Schools initiative. We’ve had over 700 students a week pass through our gates and attend our classes or enjoy our library, we’ve given 36 new scholarships to students who otherwise would have no chance of going to university and expanding their horizons further than they or their parents ever imagined. All of our projects continue to grow in strength and impact communities in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Writing this I’m reminded of how proud I am of what we’ve accomplished. I say ‘we’ because without our donors Brandon and I would just have had an idea, nothing more, it’s because of you that we were able to take that idea and see it grow beyond what we ever thought possible!
This letter is a thank you to you and a heartfelt plea to also remember the communities JWOC is a part of. Like you I no longer have a daily reminder of the work we do for the people of Southeast Asia, but also like you, I’ve been touched by them, by their perseverance, by their gratitude and by their smiles. I look forward to going back and seeing first-hand all the work JWOC is doing, but for now, please join me in going online and donating so our projects can continue and we can make a difference from afar.
Happy Thanksgiving and Many Blessings,
P.S. If you are already thinking ahead to buying holiday presents, remember JWOC Gifts – they are a great way to show you care!