Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Days 15-18: Commitment + Time = Progress

It usually comes around this time of the challenge: the doldrums. I'm past the halfway point but still quite a ways to go, and no movement on my charitable goal in four days. I need some wind in my sails, but I'm willing to wait patiently while focusing on what I can control: my own attitude and just staying faithful to the work before me.

I'm chalking it up to Spring Break weekend and everyone catching up after travels, leaving little time for anyone to join in. I am hopeful that the $530/mo we have gained this month through day 14 will be a wave that continues its momentum as people get back into a normal routine after Spring Break.

It's a valuable lesson, but a hard one: that progress takes commitment and time, that "slow and steady wins the race."

It has rung true for two girls at the Peace Gospel Nepal orphan home, Asmita and Sujita. I have seen them grow up at the home. When our Nepal director found them 10 years ago in tiny mountain villages, they were severely malnourished. Asmita's father died shortly after she was born and her mother struggled to find food for her and her six siblings. Sujita's mother died when she was four years old. Her father married another woman, and as is too common in South Asian culture, he abandoned his children to start a new family, leaving her with her mother's parents who were very poor themselves and could not properly care for her.

But after 10 years of care at our home, they have so much to be thankful for. They receive daily nutritious meals and have often placed near the top of their class at their school, receiving good grades consistently thanks to their eagerness to learn and the health and nutrition we've been able to provide them, allowing them to stay focused on their studies.

I can't help but wonder if they would have been trafficked if we had not intervened-- it is estimated that over 12,000 Nepali girls go missing every year due to human trafficking. The easiest "prey" for the traffickers are these kinds of orphan girls stuck in extreme poverty with overburdened relatives struggling to care for them.

The top photo is one I shot of them at the home in January 2013 when they were 8 years old, the photo below is of them last week sitting in the same spot. Their progress is all made possible because of the regular, recurring, consistent support of monthly donors ensuring us a way to budget for their continued care over the years. They are grateful.


Ready to join in on being a part of these miracles? Here's how:

Just tap on this chart and then on the next page choose the amount of the heart you want to sponsor, choose the day of the month you want your donation to be charged each month, enter your details, and you're done!

Then on my next blog post I will fill in your heart to represent the progress we're making!


I have quite a few meals to catch you up on. Making it work, one meal at a time. I remain determined to finish the challenge as a way of standing in solidarity with those who struggle to find their next meal and never see a "day 31" like I will. 















Take Action!

1) Please consider helping me reach my goal to find 50 new "Sustainers"— donors willing to give a small amount each month toward our work helping vulnerable children and trafficking survivors. Go here and enter the amount you would like to give monthly!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, Amazon.com through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to the work of Peace Gospel's programs helping orphans, at-risk children of the slums, and human trafficking survivors.



3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!



Friday, March 15, 2019

Days 12-14: How 42 Meals Became 19,000 in 14 Days

One of the common contentions I've received from my blog readers is kind of the "Yeah, but can't you buy a lot more food in those parts of the world with $1?" I honestly don't think so.

So I once asked my Manila program co-director to see what she could buy in the market for $0.33 (what I have to work with for one meal) which is about 17 Philippine Pesos. She said it could buy either two eggs, or a bowl of noodles, or three small bread rolls; comparable, or worse, than what I'm getting. So maybe for $0.33 you could buy ingredients for a humble egg drop noodle soup, but I don't think it would have the diversity of ingredients that my soups have had.

In India, $0.33 is about 20 Rupees. In the developing world, the poor do not have the luxury of coming across 30 day's wages in one lump, so most buy ingredients on a per-day or per-meal basis.

So my friend Hudson in India took 20 Rupees down to the market and was able to buy some wheat and two eggs for 19 Rupees, then used some existing stock of oil and seasonings to prepare a small meal of chapati bread and scrambled egg masala as seen in the photo below. So again, as in Manila, we are seeing "purchasing power parity" about at equilibrium in terms of these common food commodities.


The meal my friend Hudson was able to make in India from ingredients he bought in the market with his 20 rupees ($0.33)


So far, from my experiences traveling abroad, and in these two case study examples we've now looked at, it does not appear that $1 buys you any more or less in these countries, in terms of basic foods.

This effectively proves that there is "purchasing power parity" on basic food staples in at least these two locations we polled.

So the overall point is that your $1 donation, especially when coupled with produce from our farmlands, is more than enough to provide three meals for a hungry child in need. Three meals. To children like this girl at our girls home rescued from "bonded servitude" (labor trafficking, or modern day slavery) in India... 



One of the most frequent comments about the meals I cook during the challenge is, "Wow that actually looks pretty good, I'd eat that!" And this is my favorite entry to discussion about the challenge. That is exactly my strongest point.

Imagine if I were to supplement my ingredients list with fresh vegetables from a farmland or gardening project? Bingo. That is the work of Peace Gospel and She Has Hope right there. We are multiplying your generosity, no matter how small your contribution may feel to you. 

So, literally, a $30/mo recurring donation will put a delicious fresh-cooked meal on one child's plate, three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. By buying basic inexpensive staples such as rice, beans, and potatoes, then combining them with fresh produce from our farms and gardens, we can work miracles with your humble, consistent contribution, no matter how small. 

We are now at 17 "monthly hearts" sponsored since I launched this challenge! The value of these sponsorships is $530/mo, or annualized at $6,360/year. When these funds are combined with the virtually "free" ingredients from our farmlands and gardening projects, these 17 newly filled hearts represent over 19,000 meals we'll be able to serve to children in need over the next year. So, this is definitely something that's keeping me going! Because of your generosity, my 42 meals have been multiplied into over 19,000!

Ready to join in being a part of these miracles? Here's how:

Just tap on this chart and then on the next page choose the amount of the heart you want to sponsor, choose the day of the month you want your donation to be charged each month, enter your details, and you're done!

Then on my next blog post I will fill in your heart to represent the progress we're making!


I'm dedicating these days of my challenge to these sweet souls (the first child is my sweet friend Bina, I've gotten to know her and her mother from my visits) of the Thapathali slum colony of Kathmandu, Nepal. 


She prepares potatoes masala for her family inside her single-room shanty home which serves as bedroom, living room, bathing corner, and kitchen all in one.

I was able to deliver this portrait I shot of her and her mother on a previous visit. She holds one of the books from her school curriculum. Thankfully we were able to cover her school supplies needs for that school year. Her family could not otherwise afford to keep her enrolled in school without our support. 

Another view of a typical home in the colony. 

A bit of catching up to do to show you the past 9 meals I've been able to create from $3 worth (3 days' worth) of my limited ingredients. It's not luxurious, but it's working! A big thanks to my faithful girlfriend for doing this challenge with me on her own (unpublished) $30 worth of ingredients. Having someone to do this with is making a world of difference compared to my previous 5 challenges. So grateful for many of her cooking ideas as represented in the below photos (they're the appetizing-looking ones). ;-)












Take Action!

1) Please consider helping me reach my goal to find 50 new "Sustainers"— donors willing to give a small amount each month toward our work helping vulnerable children and trafficking survivors. Go here and enter the amount you would like to give monthly!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, Amazon.com through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to the work of Peace Gospel's programs helping orphans, at-risk children of the slums, and human trafficking survivors.



3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!



Monday, March 11, 2019

Days 9-11: Mustard Seeds for Us, Trees of Hope for Them

I took a much needed break from blogging over the weekend, so I'm combining the past three days into one catch-up blog post. 

As I'm living on just $1 worth of food each day, it has me doing a lot of thinking about my charitable goal for the challenge. What seems like a mustard seed of a tiny contribution for you could mean the world to an orphan or trafficking survivor facing their trauma or despair all alone without hope-- your mustard seed becomes their giant tree, bearing the fruits of hope. 

And that's the beauty of three elements combined:
  1. You giving what you can afford no matter how small it seems
  2. Committing to give that amount each month
  3. Others coming together to do the same
Each of these choices for love are represented by a red ("filled") heart on our "heart chart."

Over the weekend we picked up two more "hearts" in this current effort to find more support for our orphan care and human trafficking response programs. If I focused just on these two small steps in light of the broader Everest-sized goal of our work, I could easily get discouraged (and often times I do). 

But when I take a step back and look at the overall impact over the 25 years of doing this, it's so encouraging. We see orphans growing up and graduating from high school, going on to college and starting to realize their huge potential to make their own positive impact on this world. We see human trafficking survivors finding hope, healing, and empowerment as they start small businesses to stand on their own two feet. It's really happening! 

It's making a difference for girls like her, a trafficking survivor finding hope in the secure environment of our rehabilitation home where she can gain healing and empowerment, all available because of the ongoing generosity of strangers she'll likely never meet. 

What's also beautiful is we're creating a community in this effort-- you could say it's a community of love-- the hearts on this chart represent people who overcame feeling they were powerless to make a difference in the midst of a statistically overwhelming crisis, to realize they actually hold a real power to change a life. And that overcoming is ultimately motivated by love. Love is stronger than death (1st Corinthians 13). 

This community of "hearts" are composed of like-minded-- like-hearted you could say-- individuals coming together-- this community has faith that their small contributions, when pooled together and made each month, can make a real difference over time. And in this difference-making there is a real power, creating ripples of change that extend far beyond our existence. 

So here's where we are on the chart today! It's starting to fill up!

Once the chart is fully filled, we will have $1,775 in new monthly support! Currently we are at $490/mo in new monthly support for these life-saving programs!

If we can fill the whole chart, such an impact would completely fund 10 spaces at our Kathmandu rehabilitation home for trafficking survivors each and every month, or 24 spaces at our India girls home, for example!

Ready to join in? Here's how:

Just tap on this chart and then on the next page choose the amount of the heart you want to sponsor, choose the day of the month you want your donation to be charged each month, enter your details, and you're done!

Then on my next blog post I will fill in your heart to represent the progress we're making!


A look at my meals from the past 3 days, along with some snacks. We are making this work but it definitely gets a bit on the tedious side working with just these 12 basic ingredients. These challenges always turn my thoughts to the struggles of those millions of our world who face the same limitations of food but do not have a day 31. But I sincerely believe that if we all could gain just a little more consciousness of the realities they face, we would all make the changes needed to share more and bring balance to this great imbalance. 













Take Action!

1) Please consider helping me reach my goal to find 50 new "Sustainers"— donors willing to give a small amount each month toward our work helping vulnerable children and trafficking survivors. Go here and enter the amount you would like to give monthly!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, Amazon.com through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to the work of Peace Gospel's programs helping orphans, at-risk children of the slums, and human trafficking survivors.



3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!



Saturday, March 9, 2019

Day 8: Finding Your Own Hope

In doing this challenge and seeking your involvement in my calling, to walk alongside and join in on something that is bigger than you or me indivudally, I want to make a case for the fact that you will not become poorer for living on less and giving, but richer. I want you to see with new eyes and hear with new ears that which is spiritually beneficial for your soul. To be clear, I hope for that for myself also, that I will not be blind to my own lessons unfolding in the journey right before me.

In recent studies, it has been found that the old rule of thumb "six degrees of separation" has actually shrunk to somewhere between 3.2 - 3.9 degrees of separation. This means that you could choose any random person on earth (let's say a farmer in Tashkent, Uzbekistan named Zara) and there would be a way to show that you have a connection to Zara through just 4 degrees of relationships.

For example: (you) - 1 - (your friend John who lives in the UK) - 2 - (who has a friend Fatima who lives in Dubai) - 3 - (who has a friend Gabriel who lives in Uzbekistan) - 4 - (who knows Zara from seeing her every week in the market when he buys his vegetables from her).

I know you may not really care about Zara, hopefully not because you are really that apathetic, but maybe for more practical reasons. Sure, you don't have the bandwidth to care about Zara; you don't know her and her life has no real bearing in your day to day life. But my point is, we are all much more connected than we realize. We are sharing this tiny blue orb of a planet together. We are all in this together. What affects Zara as an average human ultimately affects you and me.

But what if you heard a story from your UK friend John about Zara? He tells you that his Dubai friend Fatima was having lunch with him on a recent visit, and she shared the most poignant story with him about her friend Gabriel and his interaction with Zara? Zara struggles to make ends meet from selling vegetables in the market and can't afford to send her daughter to school. Her daughter was put in a compromising situation working in the fields while her mother went into the city to sell her vegetables. Tragedy struck Zara's daughter and it hit Gabriel in such a sobering way. You see, Gabriel had gotten to know of Zara's daughter from seeing her helping her mother in the market every weekend. All kinds of questions had entered Gabriel's mind about what he could have done differently to make a difference for Zara and her daughter if he had only known of their desperation. 

Zara's story then becomes personal, relatable, and real. You feel it.

My friends, that is how we should feel about every human on our planet.

I know we can't take on the weight of the world, I am just saying we should be conscious of the condition of humanity.

It should influence our day to day decisions in how we live our lives.

If we knew that living on less and giving a little bit more to help those who have next to nothing and face desperate life and death risks every day could make a difference in saving their lives and giving them hope, should we not do it?

And I'm not talking about selling everything you own and taking a vow of poverty. I'm just talking about making small changes that add up to big differences.

Won't we feel better about ourselves and our world if we made conscious decisions to live more simply so that others can simply live?

I think so!

I think that at our core, on a soul level, we need that hope just as much as those living in extreme poverty do! Hope that we can make a difference, hope that we can help, hope that we can find meaning beyond our possessions.

I'm happy to report that slowly but surely more of you who are following my 30 day journey are finding that hope and take that step of faith to believe that you really can make a difference.

We are up to 14 "monthly donor" hearts filled of our goal of 50! So we are up to $431 in new monthly donations that will help orphans and trafficking survivors every single month moving forward, long after my $30 worth of food is consumed and gone.

That's $5,172 every year for these programs. I say that to encourage you that together, even with what is essentially "spare change" to us individually, we are making real change, long-term!

If we can fill the whole chart, such an impact would completely fund 10 spaces at our Kathmandu rehabilitation home for trafficking survivors each and every month, or 24 spaces at our India girls home, for example!

Ready to join in? Here's how:

Just tap on this chart and then on the next page choose the amount of the heart you want to sponsor, choose the day of the month you want your donation to be charged each month, enter your details, and you're done!

Then tomorrow I will fill in your heart to represent the progress we're making!


Tonight I dedicate Day 8 to this mother and daughter who enthusiastically invited me into their makeshift home in the slums of Kathmandu and fed me the small snack they had available; likely sacrificing what small calorie count they had to survive off of, in the interest of hospitality. True humility! I warmly and gratefully accepted their hospitality and sat and spoke with them using the little broken English we could exchange. It was a moment I'll never easily forget.


I also wanted to introduce you to more of our global neighbors. These kids I also met in the Thapathali colony of Kathmandu, Nepal. The evening I met them they were eating what looked like a very basic soup for dinner. It makes my meals from today look like a feast in comparison.


And here are my day 8 meals, made from about $1 worth of food.






Take Action!

1) Please consider helping me reach my goal to find 50 new "Sustainers"— donors willing to give a small amount each month toward our work helping vulnerable children and trafficking survivors. Go here and enter the amount you would like to give monthly!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, Amazon.com through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to the work of Peace Gospel's programs helping orphans, at-risk children of the slums, and human trafficking survivors.



3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!