Would You Consider a Year-end Gift to I Am 2?

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It’s almost the end of the calendar year.  Many philanthropists and generous hearted people give a special gift at the end of each calendar year to a worthy cause.  We’d like to think that you see I Am 2 Partners, Inc., and our efforts to alleviate hunger and suffering for children, as a very worthy cause that you are happy to support.

Will you consider a gift to I Am 2 Partners, Inc. at this time? All donations are FULLY tax-deductible as we are an approved 501.c.3 non-profit organization.

We have two projects that we need to wrap up:

1. Bright Future Children’s Home in Migori, Kenya.  To give specifically to this cause, follow this link:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RKR8ZNZX4UVPA

2. Good Shepherd Pediatric Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda.  To give specifically to this cause, follow this link:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=B7U2JA5QSYCRC

Or, you may wish to give  general gift to I Am 2 in order to help our vision for the future web site (one that will allow us to host dozens of projects simultaneously!) take wings!  You can do so with this link: http://www.iam2.org/donate

Regardless of whether you give, or how much you give, we hope and pray that God will bless you with all good things in 2013!  Thank  you for following our journey this past year and for your incredible support, prayers and encouragement!!!

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Ready for Some Christmas Shopping?

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  So goes the familiar Christmas song sung by the late Andy Williams.  For many people Christmas is the most joyous time of the year.  It’s a time when we give gifts to those we love.  And we’ve got a great suggestion for you:

WHY NOT DO YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING ONLINE THROUGH I AM 2 PARTNERS, INC.’s AMAZON.COM STORE? 

Here’s why that’s a great idea:

1. You don’t have to spend gas money to get to the store;

2. You don’t have to fight with pushy people over the last of the World of Warcraft video games;

3. You get great prices (just the same as if you shopped directly with Amazon.com);

BUT THE BEST REASON OF ALL:

4. When you shop through our store, I Am 2 receives a portion of every purchase to use in helping kids grow and be healthy and to develop our ability to reach more children with life sustaining food, safe drinking water or to help them have shelter, medications or to get them out of human trafficking.

So, how about it?  Here’s the link….just click on the Amazon logo below and you’ll be transported through cyberspace (much like Santa’s reindeer!) to our store!!!!  Thanks for giving it a try!!!!

Shop the I Am 2 Partners, Inc. Store

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A Great Way to End 2012

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Though it’s not the New Year just yet (thank goodness we don’t have to stay up tonight to watch that sphere drop in Times Square!), the roller-coaster year of 2012 is drawing swiftly to a close.  We don’t have much of the year left and we would like to make a request of you: would you consider a year-end donation to a wonderful cause?

Our dream for 2013 is to host many more projects that save the lives and health of children.  We would love to have dozens of projects running at one time.  Why?  Well, it certainly isn’t because we are looking for headaches, but because we know it’s about kids.  A year-end, tax-deductible gift to I Am 2 Partners, Inc., is really an investment in changing the future for children who may not otherwise even have a future.

In order to host dozens of projects and capitalize on the amazing power of social media to raise funds for worthwhile causes, we are asking if you can give a gift – large or small – to help us be able to start the programming necessary to build the web site and social media connectivity that will drive I Am 2 into the future and allow us to be much more effective in raising money that will go to children’s causes.

Your donations are tax-deductible.  You can give through this link:

http://www.iam2.org/donate

If you feel led to do so, we invite you to ask your friends and family to help, too.

Thank you for considering this request!

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Can You Hear the Jingle Bells?

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OK…Black Friday is over, as is Blue Monday.  By all accounts, records were broken and new records set for the shopping that was done right after Thanksgiving.  Maybe you got all your shopping done, maybe not…but we want to remind you that you can help I Am 2 provide for more kids by doing your Christmas shopping through our Amazon.com associate store!

We’ll give you the link here in just a minute, but for now, here’s what you need to know:

  • We are an approved Associate through Amazon.com;
  • We have our own “store” and anything that you purchase through our “store” accrues money that Amazon.com will donate to I Am 2;
  • It doesn’t cost you anything more to buy from our Amazon.com store than it does if you were to go directly to their site;
  • You will be helping kids by doing your shopping through us!

OK!!!  So, let the shopping begin!!!  Below you’ll find a picture of the Amazon.com logo that will link you to our store.  You’ll find a list of categories that you can shop on the left hand side of the screen.  (It defaults to Books, but if you scroll down on the left side, you’ll see LOTS of other categories.  You may find a few categories or sub-categories that are missing from our site which we didn’t include because of things we believe are objectionable, but there’s a huge array of various types of product you can purchase, including music, videos, books, vitamins and supplements, clothes, electronics, housewares, shoes, pet supplies, sporting equipment, computers, etc.

We  hope you’ll check it out, and if you plan to do any online shopping with Amazon, that you’ll remember to shop through I Am 2′s store.  And don’t forget to tell your friends about it.  They’ll feel good about the quality of the service from Amazon, but even better because they know they’re helping a wonderful cause…feeding kids, getting them clean water, and protection!!!  Just click on this Amazon icon and you’ll be shopping before you know it!!!

Shop the I Am 2 Partners, Inc. Store

Thank you for shopping through I Am 2 and helping children in the process!

 

The Holidays

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Thanksgiving is already gone.  It has always been my favorite holiday of the year and I am always a bit sad when it is over.  But as I look back at this past year, I see so many things for which I’m immensely grateful.  Please let me share some of them with you:

  • I am thankful for the chance to work with I Am 2 Partners, Inc., and to be able to help shape its future, but mostly to help the kids we’ve been able to help this past year;
  • I am thankful for you – our faithful readers and donors, friends and family, who have stood by us during some really stressful times.  You held us up with prayers and encouragements.
  • I am thankful for the great partners that have worked with is: BrightPointForChildren.org, BeyondPoverty.org, and onehundreddays.org.  We couldn’t have asked for better partners to work with to help launch I Am 2.
  • I am thankful for the times we were able to spend with family.  They are priceless.
  • I am thankful that we FINALLY were given our 501.c.3 designation approval by voice from the IRS and now it’s just a matter of receiving the “letter that’s in the mail.”
  • I am thankful for the opportunity I had to go to India and visit the Dalit peoples living in the slums of Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai.  And not a penny of I Am 2′s money was needed for that trip – what a blessing!!!!
  • I am thankful for the plenty we’ve enjoyed this past year – food, shelter, clothing, relatively good health, laughter and tears – all rolled into life.  Life is a great adventure and we should always live it with joy and grateful hearts for those who share the pathway with us.

What will the next  year bring?  Only God knows that answer.  But we hope that this next year will see some great developments in the growth of I Am 2 Partners, Inc.  For instance, we are hoping and praying for all these things:

  • That we will be able to get at least our first phase of the new web site developed and up and running.
  • That we will conclude our existing projects in an honorable way.
  • That we will be able to expand the number of children we help by having the capability (via the new web site) of hosting multiple projects at one time.  We are, after all, only interested in helping needy children….not in setting big dollar targets that don’t translate into needs being met.
  • That we will be able to open up some other avenues of funding for I Am 2 Partners, Inc. internal expenses because of the 501.c.3 approval.  These avenues will be used primarily to raise funds for the projects we carry out with our partners.
  • That we will be able to conduct at least one project (hopefully many more!) in the United States to help children in our own country, too.

We invite you to continue to partner with us in the coming year.  We hope that you feel good about what your help has meant this past year, and about what we hope to do in the coming year.  As time passes, we’ll be able to get more and more specific and we promise – we’ll keep you informed!!!!

Alone I am one.  With you I am two.  Together we can change the world.

We couldn’t even begin to do it without you!!!

 

 

 

What a Halloween Treat!!!

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10/31/12 – Wow!  We are excited! No, not about Halloween, though that can be pretty cool, too.

Today we received final word from the IRS that I Am 2 Partners, Inc. is an IRS recognized 501.c.3 tax-exempt organization!

Here’s what our future now looks like:

Step One:

Expand our project selection. Currently we have two projects up on our website, but we have several others waiting in the wings!

Our goal is to continually host 15-20 life-giving, world-changing projects that allow individuals a simple way to make an impact in the world around them.

Step Two:

In order to live out our mission statement, we must have a different web site. Here is what we’re trying to build:

  • Phase One:  New “Home Page” and a “Projects Page”
    • The new site will have the ability to host multiple projects and allow donor interactions to go viral. The goal is to connect with as many people as possible in order to impact as many children as possible.
    • These pages will have stats, charts, and graphs to give our donors the ultimate interactive experience;
    • Phase One has been quoted by our development partner at $15,000.  We already have one $5000 matching grant offered to us, but we need to raise the rest as quickly as possible so we can get on with helping more kids!  You can give here.

Truly, we don’t want your money. We want you to watch your money change lives of children here and abroad!

  • Phase Two: New “Profile,” “Team,” and “Partner” Pages
    • Our ultimate goal is for Iam2.org to be a one-stop location for philanthropy involving children. We want to hosts hundreds of projects a year all while allowing our donors and friends to interact with the change they are creating;
    • We will allow individuals to have their own personal profile page that reports their activity: donations, project involvements, partners, friends, and related activity.

At Iam2.org, you will see the impact you are making!

Having our IRS designation finally in hand can make a huge difference in how many kids we can help.  Having the new web site will have an equal, if not greater impact on our ability to raise funds for the projects we carry out with our partners.  We hope you share our excitement, too!

Oh, one more thing: we are entering Christmas-shopping season.  You can help I Am 2 with direct donations (see link above), but you can also help by shopping through I Am 2′s Amazon.com store.  A portion of every purchase made through our store sends money to I Am 2 to support our work.  Tell your friends and encourage them to shop through I Am 2′s Amazon.com store, too.  Click on the Amazon.com image below to go to our Amazon store:

Shop the I Am 2 Partners, Inc. Store

Be sure to scroll down through all the shopping categories that appear on the left side of our store page!

 

 

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The World’s Three Most Deadly Words

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Some things just shock and stun the imagination.  Here’s a case in point…a true story:

“The woman in this picture has just related to a film crew how she killed her newborn daughter by strangulation. She killed eight of her newborn daughters, in fact, and can lead you to the tree-shaded plot of ground where she has buried all of them. The earth is rich there, rounded and fertile. The mound where the infants lie rises over them in a gentle slope, like the swell of mother-flesh.

“This woman is not unusual in her Indian village. She and her neighbors explain through a strange kind of laughter the myriad ways that they have dispatched their female children. One of the most common is to dampen a piece of cloth—large enough to swaddle the child in—then lay the wet fabric over the baby’s face, so that she can’t breathe. Other options are to expose the child to the elements or to place her in a box near the river and walk away.

“Not only are these practices common in India, they’re common throughout many countries and across many cultures. It’s estimated that as many as 200 million girls are missing from the world’s population due to the practice of gendercide, the culturally-based killing of a child (overwhelmingly female) on the basis of its sex.”

To read more about the world’s three deadliest words, click here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2012/10/the-three-deadliest-words-in-the-world-its-a-girl/

This is why we exist.  We want to stop these kinds of practices and give children LIFE…

 

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Who Is Really the Poorest?

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I went to India expecting to see poverty.  It was, in fact, the reason we were going: to learn more about the plight of the Dalit peoples of India so we could tell others about them.  I got what I came for.  Our agenda included visiting several slums and schools for the slum children.  The poverty I saw in India was not any more shocking than the poverty I saw in Haiti after the earthquake.  The ugly face of poverty is not confined to one country or continent, but can be found anywhere one travels, if you aren’t afraid to go see it.  Abject poverty is abject poverty, wherever it exists.  And it’s heart-breaking.

Mudfort Slum

This post will be about my personal reflections regarding our trip.  Let me say up front that I’m not writing this to guilt anyone who is blessed to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in a well-do-do country.  That’s not my purpose.  I merely want to share my thoughts and reactions to my sojourn in India.

I knew some about the Dalits before we travelled there, having heard about the “untouchables” for as long as I could remember.  I knew that they were poor.  I didn’t know how many there were (one estimate puts their population as 250 million) until I did some research.  But research on the Internet and staring a person in the eye are two very different things.

Mudfort Slum

In the slums of Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai, wandering among the shacks and human detritus, seeing humans living in conditions that are far worse than most dogs in America experience, I kept coming back to this question: “Why was I born in the United States and why do I live in such wonderful conditions compared to these people?”  In the sounds of the children, I could hear the long-distant echoes of my own little children at play, and I wondered why they’d been so fortunate to be born to an American family?  How would I cope if I were living in such conditions?  Would I even survive?  What would my life expectancy be?  What sorts of diseases would I have?

I had a horrible cold the entire time we were in India, and I knew that upon returning to the States I’d have my gall bladder removed.  What would have happened to me in India if I lived in the slums all my life and had a gall bladder problem?  Or a heart problem.  Or if my son who lived in the slum with me developed cancer.  Would there be any hope of treatment?  How many must die in India simply because they have no access to decent medical care?

I found myself getting angry at those who keep the Dalits under foot.  How can one person treat another person so crudely and then face himself in the mirror?

I am a photography enthusiast, and fortunate enough to own a very nice camera.  I took it with me to chronicle our adventure.  As we walked into the slums, I felt very self-conscious taking photographs.  The people would stare at us as we walked between the “houses”.  They weren’t hostile (with perhaps a few exceptions), but I felt uncomfortable just the same.  How would I have felt if I were living in those conditions and a bunch of white people armed with cameras showed up in nice, air-conditioned vans, jumped out, started talking to us and began taking pictures of me and my children?  Would I feel like an animal in a zoo, a circus freak, a cautionary tale, the prop for someone else’s passing spiritual experience?

Mudfort Slum

I felt as if I were intruding into a sacred place…a place that I knew nothing about.  And I was ashamed, as if we were making a spectacle of these people.  Slum tourism.  I knew we weren’t taking their pictures to exploit them, but to be able to communicate visually what we saw and experienced with the intention of encouraging other people to help these souls find a better way of life – and to stare deeply into our own comfortable lives for self-evaluation.  Try as I might to be unintrusive, though, I felt that I was intruding with every step and click of the shutter.  At times, the things I saw were so heart-breaking that I just couldn’t bring myself to press the shutter button.

But something else struck me just as powerfully.  Nearly everywhere we went, even into the awful Mudfort Slum in Hyderabad, the people would smile at us and you could hear their cheerful chatter as they visited with one another and us, and see the luminous smiles on the children as they gamboled around us, begging us to take their pictures.  Incredibly, beyond all belief, these people were happy.  Or at the very least, content.

Why should they be content?  Shouldn’t they want something better?  Then it dawned on me: maybe they did want something better, but given the cultural realities of being a Dalit, they believed they could never have it, so they’d learned, as the apostle Paul had written so long ago, to be content no matter what their condition.

That’s when I began to realize that I am an American Dalit.  Perhaps, in the aspects of life that truly matter the most, they were the rich ones and I am the poor one.  I’ve grown so accustomed to being able to buy what I want when I want it, to live in a large, air-conditioned house in a quiet, safe, suburban neighborhood.  I have access to health care even if it is expensive.  I have access to clean water just by turning on a tap.  We can go to the store and buy anything we want at any time.  We lack for nothing…yet we seem to lack everything that really matters.  And isn’t that perhaps the worst kind of poverty – not realizing how poor we are in spirit, in laughter, in love for God and family, not realizing how good we have it?

Why was I born in America?  And what am I supposed to do about the plight of the Dalits, or the Haitians, or the Sudanese?  I’m still wrestling with those questions.  I don’t know the answers yet.  But this I do know: I believe I, and all of us who are fortunate enough to live the privileged life we do live, need to do something.  Something more than touring a slum and taking pictures.

Even a cursory read of the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God holds those who have much accountable for what they do with what they have.  It’s bluntly stated that He deeply cares about the desperation of the poor, widows and orphans.  He has made it clear that one day there will be a day of reckoning, and that such things will be taken into account (Matthew 25:31-46).

If the shoe was on the other foot and I were the one living in Mudfort Slum, I’d hope that someone, somewhere, would do something.  Sometimes all people need is a hand to help start lifting them up – then they’ll be able to pull themselves up the rest of the way.

I hope they’ll be able to count on my outstretched hand.  Can they count on yours?

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Normal

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about things that are routine and things that are normal.  I have come to realize that there are many views of what “normal” means.

Writing from the perspective of a white, middle-class American citizen, I must say that I am working from my own frame of reference here and that my perspective is therefore skewed and representative of only a small portion of people in the world.  We forget the fact that as Americans who have cars and earn $50,000 plus per year we are in the top 1-2% of people in the entire world in terms of wealth.  While the American dream of a home, car and some nice “stuff” (televisions, cell phones, computers, iPads, etc.) may dance in our heads at night, those things are far from the “norm” for nearly everyone else in the world.

In Haiti for instance, the bulk of the population live on between $1-2 a day.  It is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, but that is normal for them.  Their minds must revolve around things a bit more critical than TV’s or having the latest iPhone on the day it is released.  Their normal is much different than ours.

In India, the Dalits face a different “normal”.  In the more rural and remote areas of the country, Dalit girls in villages are told that they are nothing and that they will never amount to anything…unless they become temple prostitutes.  That’s one way (traditionally speaking the ONLY way that I know of) for them to ever rise even a slight bit above their “normal” existence as non-human beings.

There may be a school in the United States that doesn’t have running water for bathrooms (maybe if you went far enough into the hills in Appalachia you’d find one – I went to a one-room school in rural Iowa as a kid that had outhouses back in the ’50′s), but in Rwanda, only 20% of the schools in the entire country (rural and urban) have latrines…let alone flush toilets and sewage systems.

Why have I been thinking about such things?  Because I want to see and think of the world more clearly – more rightly.  It is something I am trying to do with my hobby of photography – learning to see things differently – and I’m trying to do it with my worldview, too.  I need to understand that while my station in life may be “normal” for America, it’s massively exceptional for the rest of the world.

This is important to me.  I have come 3 months since I was in India and already some of the scenes, smells and textures of that visit have started to fade in memory.  I don’t like that.  I need to be reminded that what is normal for us here would be considered tremendous blessings for most of the world.  And I need to be more generous and compassionate as a result.

 

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Update on Bright Future Children’s Home Project

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Summer is always a hard time for raising funds, no matter how good the cause may be.  We believe that Bright Future Children’s Home, located in Migori, Kenya, is a great project for a terrific cause: providing care for 37 orphans who need food, water and shelter.

Some of the kids at Bright Future Children's Home in Migori, Kenya

This summer was very tough in terms of fundraising.  Vacations, graduations, and even the general economic condition, have all conspired to virtually dry up donations during the summer.  Plus, we have been making some radical changes internally at I Am 2 Partners, Inc., that have led to reduced internal costs making it a bit more difficult this past month or so to get updates out on a regular basis.  We believe that we’ve got that resolved now (at least for the time-being), and we will do our best to update you more regularly on all our projects.

Many of the Bright Future "Family" are in this photo...

We have raised $3519 of our $7300 project budget, so we’re just about half way to the required amount to provide care for the kids for a six-month period.  We started in April, so we are six months into this project.  We have a ways to go yet, so please don’t forget about us!

If you would like to give a gift for the Bright Future project, you can go here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RKR8ZNZX4UVPA

Play time at Bright Future Children's Home, Migori, Kenya

Thanks for your help in making the world a better place for these children!