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Her Excellency
the Right Honourable
Michaëlle Jean
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of CanadaCommander in Chief of Canada (2005-2010)

Home » About Tabitha

About the Tabitha Foundation

The Tabitha Foundation is a benevolent trust, founded in 1994 to support aid efforts begun and organized by Janne Ritskes. Our field activities are centred in Cambodia, whose people were decimated by a regime which promoted enforced starvation, mass executions, slave labour and wholesale dislocation to such a degree that the social, moral and economic fibre of the country was left in tatters.

The integrated development initiatives include work in health care, education, sanitation (water, sewage), housing, small business and co-operatives. These efforts enable the poorest of the poor to improve their health status, rebuild shanties into homes, have their own toilets, clean water, and drainage systems, reconstruct roads, develop their own small businesses or become workers in cottage industry programs and learn to work together as a community.

Central to the Tabitha Foundation is the conviction that our work should foster this sense of community among the local population. To this end the projects always involve the instruction of indigenous trainers who, by example and teaching, work to restore control to communities themselves and guide the work towards self-sustainability. The goal is always to help create a healthy, viable community to allow human beings to realize their full potential.

Since 1994, over 2,600,000 people, have graduated from poverty through the Tabitha Savings Program.

Wells and water supplies: 9355 wells, 439 ponds and 8 reservoirs

Houses built by volunteer teams: 6,878
Houses built by owners: 13,111

Schools completed: 35

All members on the Board of the Tabitha Foundation in Canada are volunteers and receive no remuneration, ensuring that all donations and a high percentage of the sales from the Cottage Industry go directly to Cambodia.

We have no positions open for employment. Our sole "employee" is Janne Ritskes, a citizen of both Canada and Cambodia, who manages the operations in Cambodia with a staff composed entirely of Cambodians, trained by her.



2012/13 Annual Report Summary

August 31, 2013

Dear friends and partners,

It is an honour to present to you our 19th Annual report. I would like to thank the Royal Government of Cambodia for allowing us the privilege to carry out our work.

This year our goal was to work with and reach out to 79,876 families with 639,008 dependents – we ended the year with 78,006 families with 624,048 dependents in 15 project areas. We worked with another 289 families in cottage industry. Though we were not able to meet our goal because of factors beyond our control (health issues, King’s death, elections, protests), we consider it a
remarkable achievement.

The core of our program is savings: Our families saved $3,369,223.00 this year but what is the miracle is the purchase and life changes brought about – they purchased $21,626,575 worth of goods and services, changing their lives from absolute poverty to subsistence levels.

Water and its life giving strength – we were enabled to install 2,843 sources of water – with 5,182 hectares of land put under year round cultivation – earning our families an average of $500.00 USD per month – or $6,000.00 per year – up from the low of $300.00 per year.

In Income generation, especially in agriculture and fishing – 46,116 families were able to raise animals such as pigs, chickens, ducks, cows, etc. Another 14,180 families were able to grow crops such as rice and vegetables year round – it is so very good.

This year we had a dream to build 15 schools and we ended up building and completing 10 schools while 10 more schools are under construction . We talked about the impact it has on the children in our program. In our new areas – an average of one child per family is able to go to school – in areas where we are in mid – program – the average is 3 out of the five – in the areas where graduation took place – 4 out of 5 school aged children were in school.

Our dream this past year was to have 95 teams come and build 1,100 houses – 72 teams with 2,160 volunteers came and helped build 1,140 houses for our families. It is so very good.

It was a remarkable year – we went from strength to strength – a year of consolidation of vision an of our implementation of that vision. Each one of you stood beside us – each one of you was an integral part of it all. On behalf of the families we worked with, the staff and myself. Thank you.

Janne Ritskes
Founder and Director
Tabitha Cambodia

Click here for the complete report.


On June 11th 2008, Janne Ritskes, founder of Tabitha Cambodia, and Dr. Doug Quarry, Volunteer Public Officer for Tabitha Foundation Australia, were interviewed on the ABC Radio National show "Life Matters". The interview lasts 15 minutes.
Janne explains how the simple but effective "Family Development through Savings" Program dramatically increases family incomes, and Doug talks about the house building program.
Listen to interview

Srei, Community Development Manager, Janne Ristkes, Founder and Director and Heng, House Building Manager

Presently there are 51 staff, (not including Cottage Industry) all of them Cambodians. The staff administer the various Programs

Most of the staff are involved full time in Development and Savings. They spend 90% of their time in the communities, training, enrolling, encouraging in savings, housing and wells.

The staff in Cottage Industry spend 100% of their time training new workers, preparing crafts to give out to home workers, quality control of finished crafts, packaging and delivering crafts for sale.

A few staff are support people which includes the director Janne Ritskes, the guards and maintenance.

To download a summary of the annual report click here. To obtain the complete report please email us at

Families usually graduate from the Savings Program in 6 to 7 years, when they have adequate food and housing, can pay to send their children to school, pay for medical expenses. They now have self confidence and dignity.

We give regular updates of the progress of the work in Cambodia and how donations are spent in News.

Nothing however could be accomplished without the Cambodian people, who enthusiastically have embraced the Tabitha programs, are working and saving for a better future for their families and communities.

For more detailed information, statistics and financial statements send e-mail to


Gordon Longmuir, Ambassador of Canada to Cambodia 1995-99

Not long after I was appointed Ambassador to Cambodia in 1995, I encountered a struggling grass roots non governmental organization called Tabitha, directed, seemingly effortlessly, by an unlikely Canadian saint, Janne Ritskes. The ambitious purpose of this project was to give hope to some of the most destitute of Cambodia's people in achieving sustainable and dignified livelihoods. Janne was a member of the advisory committee of our Canada Fund for Initiatives, and brought to it her own irreverent counsel, often refreshingly at variance with official aid doctrine, drawing on her unique experience with Tabitha.

Tabitha has helped Khmer families establish productive lives with jobs, land, homes, better health and sanitation. This has been realized in large part through the imaginative use of credit and savings, generated initially by the production of cottage industry products to be sold visitors or exported to expanding markets abroad.

Tabitha emphasized then, as it does now, self help and confidence in the future. It's work in 1995 was concentrated in and around the capital, Phnom Penh, with one outlet for its products. With a little help from the Canada Fund, the organization set up its second branch in Siem Reap, near the ancient Angkor ruins. Today, Tabitha has expanded remarkably, with a popular handicraft outlet at Siem Reap Airport and broadly based programs in Prey Veng and Kampong Som.

Aside from Janne (who has herself recently acquired Khmer citizenship), its staffing is entirely Cambodian and unlike numerous Cambodian NGOs, it maintains a remarkably modest demeanour. The Tabitha Foundation, from a small support group in Ottawa, has blossomed into a multi-country operation. In addition to growing international monetary support, it has attracted scores of enthusiastic volunteers from Canada, Australia and elsewhere for village building projects.

I warmly commend the extraordinary work that Tabitha has accomplished over this past decade, both in its own program and as a fresh example to others of what hard work and visionary management can accomplish in a developing country.
September 2002


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2012/13 Annual Report
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