Party On

October 10, 2010

J arrived today, welcomed by me and grey skies at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. And so much laughter. It’s one of the best things about hanging with my brother: he’s funny and quick-witted.

We went straight to Taste of India for lunch, shopping for beer and snacks at the Metropolitan Market, then we settled in to watch the SF Giants v. Atlanta Braves.

We just returned from a walk round Green Lake. Tomorrow we head for Corvallis.

J has been a great patron of Isis Initiative, Inc.  Join us on Oct. 16 for our fundraiser and performance by the J Hatch Trio.

Thank you to Beth Rietveld and Sam Stern for hosting the party.

My friend, Kathleen Hennessy, reminded me of the deadline (today, Oct. 1, 2010, naturally) for submission of photo essays for the social activist award from PhotoPhilanthropy. This is brilliant idea and a great organization “promotes and connects photographers with non-profit organizations around the world to tell the stories that drive action for social change.”

I spent yesterday and today putting together a photo essay, Leah’s Dream. It features photographs from my visit to witness Leah’s graduation from La Salle University in Osamis City in 2007.

Leah Mamhot spends time with her classmates before her last final exam at La Salle University in Ozamis City on Mindanao in the Philippines. Leah graduated in elementary education in 2007 and now works as a teacher near her village, Sinacaban, on Mindanao.

PhotoPhilanthropy offers a number of awards in different categories. I entered in the category for professional photographers and first prize is $15,000. Imagine how many scholarships and how much good work we could do with that money.

And it’s a win-win scenario. My photography and the work of Isis Initiative, Inc. will be featured on PhotoPhilanthropy’s website.

Thank you to Kathleen and PhotoPhilanthropy and to all the featured photographers for the work they do to contribute to social change. And thank you for the opportunity to share our work and commitment to provide access to higher education for women who have the desire but not the resources to get a college degree.

Women Helping Women

April 11, 2010

Beth Rietveld is the director of the Women’s Center at Oregon State University. In the past, she’s admired my photographs and asked to exhibit them next fall. In February 2009, she attended our Mardi Gras fundraiser. 

Kurdish women who have lost their husbands and homes hope for assistance as they wait outside the parliament building of self-declared Free Kurdistan in Irbil. November 1993

Recently, she purchased 100 of our notecards to use for thank-you notes for the center. 

With that purchase, she made a donation to support our work; and, each time she sends a note, she helps share our message and our work.

We are proud and appreciative of the support. Thank you, Beth.

Check in the Mail

January 18, 2010

I went to our post office box on Saturday and found a plain white envelope addressed to Isis Initiative, Inc. No return address. I opened it to find a card and opened the card to find a check. I unfolded the check. $5,000. I read the number twice. Then I read the handwritten “five thousand” to be certain. (I won’t reveal more without the donor’s permission.)

I immediately thought: How many women can we send to college? I was giddy at such a generous and unexpected donation. Then I picked up the phone and called our board members to share the great news and my joy.

The money is great. And the check is so much more valuable than the numbers after the dollar sign. It’s a statement of support. It’s a testament of faith. It’s an acknowledgement of the value of the work we do and it’s a miracle. It demonstrates the possibilities when hearts and stories connect. When one  person’s story, one person’s words moves another person to act. It’s a shiny example of the power of women to make a difference in the lives of other women…and thereby make a difference for everyone.

I am humbled and elated. And inspired.

Leah Mamhot sent me all the receipts for Marethel Guinsayao's first semester in college, including this receipt from a seamstress for her two school uniforms.

Leah sent me the receipts for Marethel Guinsayao’s first semester of college on Mindanao  in the Philippines, including the one for her uniforms: $20 buys two school uniforms for four years of college.

I spent $25 on a book for my father for Christmas. Over and over again, I’m reminded of the power of a small amount of money to make a big difference.

We have 246 fans of our Isis Initiative, Inc. Facebook page. I posted a note stating if every one of our fans donating $20, we’d be well on our way to sending another young woman to college.

I haven’t yet received a response to my letter to President and First Lady Obama. I remain hopeful. They’re busy and they’ve got a lot on their minds and their schedules, no doubt.

If you’d like to donate, we have an easy PayPal button on our Web site at isisinitiative.org.

As always, thank you.

Investing in Live Stock

November 16, 2009

Leah earns 6,000 pesos/month teaching at the Montessori School in Ozamiz City on Mindanao in the Philippines. That’s approximately US $125, depending on the exchange rate. She’s applied for a position with a public school for the coming academic year. She’ll earn 16,000 pesos/month (US$335) plus benefits. And the school will be closer to her home and village.

Please send Leah all your good thoughts and best wishes. She’s worked hard for this opportunity and the extra money will make a world of difference for her family.

Leah’s a resourceful and determined young woman. To supplement her salary, she bought a pig. She pays approximately US$20 for a pig. Then she raises it and sells it, making about US$140. When I attended her graduation from La Salle University Ozamiz in October 2007, she had her pig butchered and cooked to make luchon, a traditional Filipino dish, to honor and thank me, “her benefactor,” and her family and friends. For her graduation celebration, we traveled to a local beach resort. Friends and family came from miles to join the feast.

Leah has two pigs now as an investment. Her brother, Juven, feeds and cares for the pigs. He’ll get a cut of the profits when they sell the pigs. Leah had planned to prepare luchon again for Christmas, when I had hoped to visit. Not this year. I’ll be working–the prize for being the most recent hire at the newspaper.

I’ll be there in spirit.

Remember this holiday season, $20 can make an enormous difference in a young woman’s life. Leah buys pigs to supplement her salary. Your donation of $20 will help provide a college education to another scholarship recipient.

Please help us continue to send young women to college with scholarships from Isis Initiative, Inc. You can donate through PayPal on our Web site or send a check.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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Isis Initiative President Cheryl Hatch wrote this letter to First Lady Michelle Obama, telling her about the nonprofit's commitment to women's access to higher education worldwide.

Last month, I wrote to President Obama and asked him to consider donating a part of his $1.4 million award for the Nobel Peace Prize to Isis Initiative, Inc.

Then I realized I wanted to write to Mrs. Obama. She’s a woman. She’s a mother. And a daughter. She’s a strong advocate for education and the possibilities for change that a college degree can offer.

I believe in our mission to offer scholarships to young women overseas, who come from impoverished and challenging backgrounds and dare to dream of a better future for themselves and their families.

I wrote the First Lady and asked for her support. I have big dreams, too.