Nepotism

September 1, 2010

I’ve been waiting to post the exciting news that Leah had received her public school teaching position. Sadly, she didn’t.

Leah taught two years at a private elementary school with the dream of securing a government job in a public school. The public school position offers the security of a lifetime appointment, benefits and a salary that is nearly triple what she earned at the private school.

She did everything right. She was number three on the waiting list. The first two candidates had received their job postings. She was next. She did not renew her private school contract. Instead she accepted an offer to fill in for a teacher who took maternity leave. She was told she’d have the next available position at the school.

When the position became available, the school administrator awarded it to someone who had family connections to the local mayor or the school administrator (I can’t remember which now). The person who got Leah’s job was ranked 11th on the waiting list, eighth behind Leah.

Leah said she cried and cried when she learned she’d been passed over. She hasn’t yet received her salary for the two months she served as a substitute. Her family went without electricity for a while because Leah didn’t have the money to pay the bill. She sold their pig to secure funds to help with expenses.

Leah doesn’t complain, though. She takes action. She went to the governor’s office and explained her situation. She asked for a teaching position and she’s been promised one in a school in a neighboring village. She said: “God is always taking care of me.”

She wants a job in a school near her village so she can stay in her home and continue to care for her aging mother and her two brothers. She’s helping pay for her brother’s education now.

When I posted this news on Facebook, my friend, Michelle Jolin, left the following comment:

“We’re so lucky on so many levels–including the one in which most of us get through life without ever having to pay a bribe or worry about such entrenched nepotism that you can’t get a decent education or a good job without powerful friends helping you.”

Leah refuses to pay a bribe. She said she knows it would make the path easier; however, she doesn’t believe in bribery. She has faith in God, herself and her hard work.

I am so proud of Leah. She has faced obstacles ever since she returned to college 15 years after she’d left high school to earn money for her family after her father died. She continues to believe and to push for what she wants, what she’s earned. I look forward to the day I can write a post announcing Leah’s new job.

And I’m so grateful to my friends and all who support Isis Initiative.

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Lucky Lady

August 14, 2009

I called Leah with the news of our decision.

“Who is the lucky lady, Cheryl,” Leah asked.

Our congratulations to Marethel Guinsayo, a 2007 graduate of San Jose High School, in San Jose, Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur on Mindanao in the Philippines.

Marethel Guinsayao, (left) is the first recipient of the Leah B. Mamhot Scholarship. Also pictured: Cristina M. Alimbe, Grace A. Supang and Lolita Imfiel are the four candidates for our 2009 scholarship. The women reside in Zamboanga del sur province of Mindinao. Photo by Leah B. Mamhot

Marethel Guinsayao, (left) is the first recipient of the Leah B. Mamhot Scholarship. Also pictured: Cristina M. Alimbe, (second from left) Grace A. Supang and Lolita Imfiel (right) are the other finalists for our 2009 scholarship. The women reside in Zamboanga del sur province of Mindinao. Photo by Leah B. Mamhot

Earlier this evening, Isis Initiative board members discussed our four scholarship candidates. We had a tough decision, weighing each young woman’s financial needs, GPA and family situation. It was close between two candidates. We wished we could offer all four a scholarship.

Our local Filipino committee had offered a recommendation. In the end, the input from the three women who had met and interviewed the candidates–and who understand the local culture–swayed us. The local committee recommended Marethel.

I spoke with Leah and she assured me that Marethel is a excellent choice and would be a serious student who would value the gift and the opportunity of a college education.

I trust Leah’s judgment. The board members trust Leah’s judgment.

Ultimately, it’s a leap of faith. For all of us.

Today marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25, 2009.) The 2009 theme is “Celebrating People in Action.” 

Isis Initiative, Inc. is a 100 percent volunteer organization; we operate solely with the generosity of volunteers. I will post a blog each day this week highlighting and honoring the volunteers who are building our grass roots organization and helping it grow. 

In our constellation of points of lights, Leah B. Mamhot is a guiding light and a constant inspiration. We have named our scholarship program in the Philippines the Leah B. Mamhot Scholarship in honor of Leah. Click on Leah’s story to learn more about Leah and her hard work and determination to get a college education. 

 

Leah Mamhot and her mother, Rosalia Mamhot, 73, with Isis Initiative founder Cheryl Hatch, waiting for a ride to town. They are going to attend Parents' Tribute Day at La Salle University in Ozamiz City in the Philippines, where Leah lives and received her degree in Elementary Education with a major in English.

Leah Mamhot and her mother, Rosalia Mamhot, 73, with Isis Initiative founder Cheryl Hatch, waiting for a ride to town. They are going to attend Parents' Tribute Day at La Salle University in Ozamiz City in the Philippines, where Leah lives and received her degree in Elementary Education with a major in English. October 2007

 

Leah has agreed to be the chair of the Isis Initiative scholarship committee in the Philippines. She asked two of her colleagues and fellow elementary school teachers, Mrs. Cherry Mae C. Banghai and Ms. Shirley C. Castro, to join the committee and help her review the applications of candidates for our next scholarship. We thank Leah, Mrs. Banghai and Ms. Castro for their willingness to support our work; in fact, their time and commitment make our scholarship efforts possible.

Leah is our inspiration. It was her story , which she calls “our story” when we talk about it, that inspired me to create a nonprofit dedicated to offering funds for a college education to women who had the desire but not the resources to pursue a degree and a profession.  And if you’d like to donate to make a college education possible for another determined woman, please visit our Web site.

Thank you, Leah. For your love. For your smile and your laughter. For you dogged determination and optimism. For your faith. For your commitment to education. For your steadfast support of your family. For who you are and all you do. Thank you.

During National Volunteer Week, if you can’t make a monetary donation, or in addition to your monetary donation, consider volunteering your time, expertise and/or ideas to our project or another project that’s dear to your heart.

I continue to affirm and believe that each gift–every time we reach out to help another human being, the simplest gesture, even the smallest donation of time, money, heart, sweat–makes an enormous difference in all of our lives and life on this planet.

Of Faith and Friends

January 6, 2009

Lynn Walker read about Isis Initiative, Inc. in the local newspaper  http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2008/12/26/news/top_story/3aaa01_hatch.txt and e-mailed me. She is more than a breath of fresh air; she’s a gust, a whirlwind of goodness and compassion, with a hefty Rolodex of ideas and contacts.

Lynn invited me to a meeting of her Interfaith group,  people of different spiritual practices who come together to share a meal, ideas and intentions. Tonight the Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Self-Realization Fellowship, and Christian Scientists were represented.

I shared Leah’s story and the mission of Isis Initiative and I received a thoughtful listening and encouragement. 

Earlier in the day, my friend Jeanene Louden offered to help me create our budget estimates and statements. The numbers and accounting side of this nonprofit adventure had weighed on me, since I’m a verbal/visual gal. I’m grateful for Jeanene’s expertise and generosity.

My friend and board member Samanda Dorger volunteered to craft a temporary Web page that will give us a basic Web presence until we have the funds and time to create a logo/design identity. 

Sam also suggested I needed a place on this blog where potential donors could find a quick and professional source of information about Isis Initiative. This evening I took Sam’s advice to heart and drafted the “About Isis Initiative, Inc.” page.

 

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn…”

–Henry David THOREAU