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.

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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.

Calendar for a Cause

November 9, 2009

At Isis Initiative, Inc., we support education for women and offer scholarships to help those who have the desire but not the resources to attend college.

My friend and fellow photographer, Betty Press, has made a commitment to helping school children in Sierra Leone, a country healing after years of brutal civil war and destruction–of infrastructure and of children’s lives and futures.

She has created a calendar as a fundraiser for Schools for Salone.

As you contemplate gifts this holiday season, I’d ask you to consider purchasing one of these beautiful, unique calendars and supporting the recovery and revitalization of Sierra Leone and her schoolchildren.

Thank you.

For more information: http://www.schoolsforsalone.org/Index.html

Unintended Consequences

November 8, 2009

Leah arrived in Dumingag about noon on Friday. She met Marethel, our scholarship recipient, and her sister, Rosel, who’s a third year education student at Josefina Cerilles State College. Leah paid her tuition fees and Marethel is enrolled for 15 units her first semester.

Marethel will share a small room in a boarding house with her sister and another student. Since they live in a mountainous region far from the college, the sisters must live near the college in order to attend classes.

“It’s a very small room, Cheryl,” Leah said. And if Leah says it’s small…

There’s a bed and a set of bunk beds and not much else.

Leah and Marethel went looking for the landlord to pay Marethel’s rent for six months. Rosebel tried to ask Leah about an allowance for Marethel, so Leah showed them the contract. Leah said she told Marethel be thankful enough for the opportunity she’s received to go to college.

She gave Marethel our agreement, which says she accepts the Leah B. Mamhot Scholarship from Isis Initiative, Inc. We will cover her tuition, boarding room and two school uniforms. She will cover her other expenses and maintain a “B” average in school. If she doesn’t have a “B” average one semester, she will get one chance, i.e. the next semester, to raise her grades. We will fund her entire education if she continues to do well in her studies.

Leah said Marethel is very happy and she signed the contract.

Then Leah told me that Marethel’s younger sister, who was a working scholar at La Salle University, which Leah attended, had to abandon her studies. Since she’s the youngest, her family requires her to work to help support Marethel and Rosel in their studies.

We offered one young woman a college education and it cost another young woman–only temporarily, I hope–her education. This is a standard practice in Filipino culture. The younger sister and her brother will work to pay for the expenses of the two sisters now in college.

When they graduate and begin working, they will help pay for the education of their siblings.

Leah is doing the same for her family. Her brother, Benjy, 17, won a scholarship to study criminology in Tangub, where he’ll stay in a boarding house. Leah will use a portion of her teaching wages to help Benjy pay for his expenses. Benjy likes LeBron James and wants to become a police officer.

Training Day

November 5, 2009

Last year when I was starting to organize Isis Initiative, Inc., I attended a conference sponsored by Financial Stewardship Resources in Corvallis, Oregon. It was $90 well spent.

I made valuable contacts and learned vital information that helped me prepare our application for 501 (c)(3) status for the Internal Revenue Service.

If you sit on the board of a nonprofit or you’re thinking of creating your own 501 (c)(3) organization, I highly recommend that you consider attending the 6th Annual Nonprofit Board Training in Corvallis on January 23, 2010.

Follow the Web link below for more details about the conference and how to register.

http://www.financialsteward.org/annual-board-training.php

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Dear President Obama

October 30, 2009

When President Obama announced that he’d give the $1.4 million from his Nobel Peace Prize award to charity, a thought flashed through my mind.

Write him a letter. Ask him to consider donating a portion of the money to Isis Initiative, Inc.

I wrote him. And I asked my friends and supporters of our work to write him a letter, too. If you believe in what we’re doing, please write him a letter.

I believe. I believe the request will reach his ears. And I believe he’ll respond. Join me in making an appeal and making a difference for women around the world.

Below is the text of the letter I wrote him on October 22, 2009

 

Dear President Obama:

I walked into a 7-Eleven the morning the Nobel committee announced you had received the Peace Prize.

“You like President Obama,” the cashier asked. “Yes, I do,” I said.

“I can’t talk to you,” she said, handing me my change. “Why?”

“Why does he deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?” she responded.

“Because he took a stand,” I answered.

“Against what?”

“Not against something,” I said. “He took a stand for something.”

I am inspired by and proud of the way you’re leading our country: with dignity and civility, vision and strength. I am heartened by your commitment to improve the quality of life for all on our planet.

I am writing to you, Mr. President, because you said you would donate your $1.4 million ward to charity. I ask with the same humbleness with which you acknowledged the Nobel Peace Prize, that you consider donating some of that money to Isis Initiative, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit I created. www.isisinitiative.org

We are a small, grassroots organization that promotes healing, connection and communication through education and the arts. We are particularly committed to offering scholarships to women overseas who have the desire but not the resources to pursue a college education.

For more than a decade, I worked to make a difference as a photojournalist. I covered the aftermath of war and its devastating affects on women and children. I used to hope that my photographs would change the world. www.isisphotos.com

In 2003, I chose not to cover the second Iraq War. You can read the complete story of how an accident in a jungle in the Philippines inspired me to create Isis Initiative, Inc. https://isisinitiative.wordpress.com/leahs-story

I now believe the real power for change exists in the relationships and good will between individual human beings. We change the world one person at a time.

President Obama, I believe dedicating some portion of the money you’ll receive from your Nobel Peace Prize to Isis Initiative, Inc. will go a long way to creating new opportunities for women, and thereby, for all of us.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. And thank you for the fine example you set with your leadership.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Hatch