Sunday, September 28, 2014


I had this idea as soon as I heard about Children International's #PovertyChallenge, and though I think the official challenge has ended, I wanted to go ahead and post anyway.

Many impoverished‬ families around the world take to dumps and landfills, seeking scraps of metal and plastic that they might sell for a bit of money. So for my poverty‬ challenge, I decided to see what it was like to feed myself with only the money I gleaned from digging through bags of trash for returnable cans.

It's gross‬. That was my first thought as I tore into that very first trash bag. It's wet and slimy, and it smells awful. I don't know *what* I'm putting my hands into. Moreover, it's dangerous: I encountered broken glass and bees as I dug through bag after bag. The labor isn't very rewarding--a few cans at a time add up slowly. I actually got used to the ‪smell‬ and the wetness after a while--it's only bothersome if something spills all over my clothes or shoes. I stopped caring about the people who ‪stare‬ at me elbow-deep in ‪trash‬, too. Well ... sorta. It bothers me less, anyway.

Most days, I only get half a bag of cans; I consider a single, full bag to be a great day. I become ridiculously excited when I discover new places to glean cans. There is competition for this limited commodity, after all, and certain areas are even "claimed turf" (today, the "senior canners" are not here; I had access to their sources in addition to my own!). So I get disproportionately excited; each can is only worth five cents, but I got to them *first*! I found these five in the trash cans in my break room. It made me think to check the trash cans in each jet bridge, where I found about a dozen more.

After two weeks of can hunting, it seems to have seeped into my subconscious, and I find myself peeking into every receptacle I pass. I have to remind myself not to dig through the trash in the airport terminal ... at least, not while it's full of passengers. The not digging is a special kind of agony, though. How many cans are in there, being wasted?! That could be tomorrow's lunch!

A full trash bag of cans is worth about eight dollars. Today was an exceptionally good day, due to the absence of the aforementioned "senior canners," and I came away with two and a half bags. With luck, the contents of these bags will yield $20. I can have sandwiches and salads for a week on this taking--I can even buy milk and eggs!

Before I can redeem them, I have to rinse them and attempt to un-crush any that were mangled--an endeavor that leads to sore and sometimes sliced fingers. Then I show up at the grocery store with my bag of cans. The machine only takes some of the brands; the rest must be hand-counted. The man at the counter is none too friendly. Even though I rinsed them, he still grumbles about the smell of my cans. People stare as I bring forth the quantity I've gleaned. "She must be homeless," they are thinking, "or a drug addict." They say nothing, but their thoughts are pained on their faces.

After the cans are counted, the man hands me a small slip of paper with the total. "Don't lose it!" I tell myself fiercely as I tuck it safely into a pocket. It's the only proof I have, the only fruit to show for my labor. I can now shop in the grocery store, paying for my carefully-chosen items with this small slip of paper. I may even be lucky enough to get a few cents back in change.

I cannot imagine trying to live every day like this...especially knowing that most days I'd only get three or four dollars. Sure, I could eat on that. But rent? Medical care? Shoes and clothes? And I'm just one person. How can you hope to support a family doing this?

Because I do not actually live in poverty, I am able to wait until I have a substantial collection of cans before I redeem them. This is about two weeks' worth (including tonight's exceptionally good yield). I'll get about $60 for them, I think. That's a lot, sure--it's great, in fact!--but I'm not actually trying to survive on that money. An income of $120 a month ... that's what some of my children's families earn. In some of their cases, it's more. Much, much more.

I would like to acknowledge my fiance Luke, who has been right there with me, elbow-deep in the trash bags, for this endeavor ... and who will be right there with me as I face the grumpy man at the counter with my truckload of cans tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spotlight Child of the Week, 5/28/2014

How could I not feature Princess Shannen?! I would sponsor her myself in a heartbeat, but I absolutely cannot take on any new children at this time. This four-year-old cutie pie lives in the Philippines with her parents and one sibling. The family of four struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $90. Their home is constructed of concrete and corrugated metal. Princess Shannen is already attending school! She enjoys playing outdoors and dancing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Idealized Poverty

Picture this: toiling parents, working diligently and under-compensated for their hard labor, struggling to put food on the table for their children. The family never indulges in wasteful things like television or soda and potato chips. Our children go to school, do chores, play in the streets, and at all times are mindful of their situation and brimming with gratitude for their sponsors. This makes them work twice as hard as their classmates, so they can one day rise above poverty! Siblings and cousins and grandparents all sacrifice even their meager means to help support this one miracle child, with the hope that the whole family will benefit. Sound familiar?

I think we as Sponsors sometimes have a particular view of what our children and their families are like. However, after years of sponsorship and some Facebook stalking of former sponsored children, I'm pretty sure that the reality is far from that idealized idea. I'm sure there are parents who eat first and feed their kids whatever is leftover. Siblings smoke cigarettes. There are nights our children don't want to complete their homework. They take selfies in bathroom mirrors and listen to music their parents wouldn't approve of. They consider themselves "emo" or "punk" or "prep" and have a clique of friends they pal around with. They kiss boys and, sometimes, things go too far. They are subject to peer pressure, and they aren't infallible. They are real people, and subject to the downfalls of being human just like we are.

Does this mean sponsorship is a waste of time? Of course not! Being human doesn't mean they're unworthy of support and the hope of a better life, and being impoverished doesn't mean they aren't allowed to enjoy frivolous things sometimes. We are sometimes prone to feeling that they should be doing this or that, that they should be grateful to a fault, that they should never waste a crumb or a second that could be spent toiling to improve their situation. But that's not life--that wouldn't be living.

Our children and their families are not robots.

Spotlight Child of the Week, 5/20/2014

Six-year-old Insha lives in India with her parents. They live in a concrete and brick house with illegally-tapped electricity and no running water. The family struggles to survive on an income of only $56 per month. Insha is enrolled in school. She enjoys playing with toys and dolls, and counts drawing among her talents. Insha speaks Urdu.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Photo of Nay-Nay

Nay-Nay's new annual photo appeared in my account today. It's the first one in which she's worn her hair down. It's gotten so long! She looks so different, and she's really starting to grow up fast. She's thirteen years old now, and beginning eighth grade next month.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Letters from Joyce and Nay-Nay!

After weeks and weeks of waiting (okay, that's probably an exaggeration...), I opened my mailbox yesterday and found a CI envelope! Inside was Cristine's annual photo and two letters!

Joyce wrote,

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Hello!!! How's your day? I hope that you and your family are in a good condition. This last February 28, we celebrated a Sr. Prom in our school. We are so happy on that occasion, we also dance and take a picture. By the way the color of my dress is red. It's simple but it's also beautiful. I choose red because that is one of my favorite colors. Me, my friends and my teacher are dancing together until end of occasion.

On my schooling it's also happy because my grades are high and good. Me, my friends and also my best friend are bonding together if we don't have a lesson and sometimes we have a group study at the house of my friend. This coming March 27, we graduate in our school. I'm so excited to be a college student because I found new friends  and classmates, but I will also miss my high school life when I graduate in our school.

I hope that you would like my letter. Thank you for supporting me. Hoping that you and your family are happy every day. GOD BLESS YOU and I LOVE YOU =)

With care,

She always writes such great letters! I wish I could see a photo of her in her prom dress--I bet she looked beautiful! I was excited all over again by the thought of her going to college. I can't wait to hear what she'll be studying and if she got a scholarship for her excellent grades!

Nay-Nay wrote:

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Good day to you!

Last month is my periodic test and distributing our class cards and I've got another top again. Proud to say that to you my sponsor. This coming February I prepare myself for many activities in Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health (MAPEH Club). I also prepare a Valentine letters for our teachers and my family.

Thank you for supporting me and sponsoring me. God bless you and your family. With you my sponsor I was able to study and more active in school. Thank you.

With kisses,
Chris Ann D.

At the bottom, instead of a drawing, she put a quote: "Education is the golden key to success."

I'm so proud of her for achieving top grades! Looks like I have another college student in the making. =)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Plot Thickens ...

CI replied to yesterday's Very Angry Lady, apologizing and saying they would address the issue. "Good," I thought. "It's all taken care of." But apparently that wasn't enough for her.

Ho-ho! Look, New York! How fortunate we are to have Ms. Sabrina Lamb to speak unsolicited on our behalf!

"Violate our privacy" ... by knocking on your door? Darling, I don't think that word means what you think it means!

I typed up a big, long response, but I didn't hit enter. What's the point? She's not going to come right and apologize for her antics, and it will probably only inflame the situation further.  So I took a screenshot of my answer instead:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spotlight Children of the Week: 5/9/2014

I turned my focus this week to India. I have been researching educational opportunities and the system in place there, so the country was on my mind as I browsed through the waiting children list. I found three girls who speak minority languages only--not one of them speaks Hindi at all.

Two-year-old Shalini lives with her parents on a monthly income of only $70. Their home is made up of brick walls and a concrete floor with a corrugated tile roof. They are fortunate to have regulated electricity, but must obtain their water from a community pump. Shalini is still too young for school. She enjoys playing with dolls. Shalini speaks Bengali.

Fifteen-year-old Sajiya lives with her parents and three siblings in a home of concrete floors, brick walls and a tile roof. The family of six struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $80. They have illegally-tapped electricity and must get their water from community faucets. Against the odds, Sajiya is still attending school. She speaks Urdu.

Twelve-year-old Firdosh lives with her parents and one sibling on a monthly income of only $66. Their home is entirely concrete: floor, roof and walls. They have illegally-tapped electricity and must get their water from community faucets. Firdosh attends school, and in her free time she enjoys playing indoor games. She speaks Urdu.

I Don't Understand

Why do people get SO angry about Dialogue Direct people talking to them about Children International? All it takes is a polite, "No, I'm not interested. Thank you." They're just doing their job; a thankless, grueling job that I would never want, at that. There's no need to berate them for it.

Someone knocked on your front door? Yes, door-to-door solicitors can be annoying. You can always ignore the knock if you're THAT against someone talking to you (that's my plan of attack; I never open my door if I don't recognize the person on the other side). However, turning up on the CI Facebook page and ranting, "HOW DARE YOUR EMPLOYEES KNOCK ON MY DOOR!" and posting, "Your employees were not invited to our private residences. These two showed up on my doorstep!" accompanied by a photograph of two smiling young women accomplishes nothing aside from making yourself look like an overreacting crazy lady (oh, and by the way: they're Dialogue Direct employees, not Children International employees). Invited to your residence? Funny, they don't look like they're inside your personal residence to me. How dare they knock on your door? Goodness! I thought that's what doors were for!

But seriously, what is there to get offended and all up-in-arms about? Do you get angry at the Girl Scouts selling cookies, too? Or what if World of Money showed up to ask for a donation? Is that different, because it's a cause you actively support? Or how about someone taking collections to help find the missing girls in Nigeria? You've bombarded your Facebook followers with multiple posts a day on THAT subject. Would you react to those solicitors with such venom?

I doubt it.

The DEMONS who DARED to knock on her door!

I wish I knew who these two girls were, so I could apologize to them for the tongue-lashing I'm sure they received from this woman.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A New Sponsorship

As I was writing this week's Spotlight Child blog, I had focused attention on girls in Zambia who speak one of the minority languages. I had selected three girls to feature--one speaks Lozi, the other two speak Tonga.

The youngest, Ruth, is only two years old. As I began to write about her, I happened to glance at her birthday. She will be three years old on May 17th.

Ruth, you may have noticed, is not featured in the aforementioned Spotlight blog. Well, that's because she already has a sponsor!

I've never had a child in Zambia before, so this will be an interesting experience for me. I'll have the opportunity to learn about a whole new country and culture as I help give my birthday twin hope for a bright future!

Spotlight Children of the Week, 5/4/2014

For this week's Spotlight, we turn our attention to Africa. As you have probably heard by now, over 230 girls were abducted while they sat an exam at school in Nigeria. Although Zambia and Nigeria are separated by three thousand miles, it seemed appropriate to focus this week's Spotlight on CI's operation there.

Ronica, age 14.
Fourteen-year-old Ronica lives with her parents and two siblings in a concrete home with a corrugated tile roof. Electricity is not available in her community and she must obtain her water from community faucets. The family of five struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $70. Against all odds, Ronica is still attending school. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her friends. Ronica speaks Lozi in addition to Nyanja.

Fridah, age 13.
Thirteen-year-old Fridah lives with her mother and one sibling in a concrete home with a corrugated metal roof. She is lucky that electricity is available in her community. The family obtains their water from community faucet and struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $80. Fridah sleeps on that hard concrete floor with a mat. She is enrolled in school. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing with her friends, and playing with dolls. Fridah speaks Tonga in addition to Nyanja.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Surprise News from Joyce!

I received a CP from Joyce yesterday. I love her letters--she always answers any questions I have asked her, and she includes lots of details. This one was no different ... and it included some surprising news!

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Good day! I hope you and your family are in a good condition. I am happy that you received my birthday pictures. The outfits that you see is our school uniform. My teacher is good and lovely to us. Daisy is at the back of me in the group picture. She wears the complete uniform. In the group family picture my father was left, because he works in another city. Joseph is also a sponsor child. Jocelyn was not. Joseph's birthday is on September 19 and Jocelyn, September 17. They are the same month. My cake is strawberry flavor and I also like chocolate flavor.

By the way, we're not really affected by the typhoon Yolanda. During that storm all levels were closed, but then again we always praying for the safety of the other persons who suffered that great typhoon. We gave them some relief goods and dress. It would be a big help to them. We pray for their health and life.

This coming vacation we are planning to go outing with family and friends and also we are are going to church this coming Holy Week. Actually, I am graduating this coming March 27th. I am ready to go to college after I am graduated high school.  I am so excited to meet new friends and teachers. You are my inspiration in my study.

Again, thank you for supporting me. Take care and God bless.


She's going to college!!! I thought she had one more year of high school left. Even if she studies in a four-year program, she should finish college before she graduates out of the CI program! She was the top student in her class ... I wonder if she was able to secure a scholarship? Her father wasn't previously listed as working in another city--I wonder if he relocated to take a better job to help pay for her education? I am happy to hear that her brother is also sponsored--double the support for the family! I wonder why Jocelyn was never enrolled?

I think I'll saunter myself on over to My Account and send a special gift to celebrate her graduation and help with some of the college expenses! I have to confess that I feel an immense relief that her family can afford to send her to college, since I am stretched pretty thin with Anna Marie's tuition at the moment! I'll have to ask her what she will be studying in college, and if Daisy will be going too!

Toodling around on the internet, I found Bicol University - Tabaco, the (seemingly) only state-run university in the city and therefore the likely school for Joyce's continued education. As I read about the school, I ran across this gem:
An entrance scholarship consisting of tuition fee discount shall be enjoyed for one semester by high school valedictorians/salutatorians from a public or private of a graduating class of not less than 50 students, except those who graduated from SUCs/laboratory high schools. The overall topnotcher in the BUCET shall also qualify under this scholarship. A student who meets the mentioned qualifications must apply for entrance scholarship upon enrollment by presenting his Form 138 (Fourth Year) and a certification as to the size of the graduating class and honors obtained from the high school principal or head of the secondary school where she/he graduated as valedictorian/salutatorian. Valedictorians and the BUCET overall topnotcher shall enjoy a 100% free tuition, while the salutatorians shall enjoy 50% free tuition. Entrance scholars may become academic scholars upon meeting the qualifying average at the end of the semester.
Joyce, as previously mentioned, WAS at the top of her class. I wonder if there were at least fifty students, though? It would be wonderful if she is qualified for this scholarship! There is a whole list of other scholarships she can qualify for as her college career progresses, too: academic-based, testing-based, and participation-based!

This is also good information to keep in mind for my other girls in Tabaco--as they enter high school, I will have to let them know that their hard work can pay off and grant them access to college and a better future!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spotlight Children of the Week, 4/21/2014

Sunita, age 5.
Punita, age 4.
This week I'd like to introduce you to a pair of sisters from India! These adorable girls live with their parents and four other siblings. Their family of eight struggles to survive on a monthly income of only $127. Their house is constructed of brick and they are fortunate to have electricity, but they must obtain their water from a community pump. Both girls sleep on the floor on a mattress, and both girls enjoy playing with their friends. Five-year old Sunita is enrolled in school, while four-year-old Punita is still too young.

Let's team up and make a change for these girls and their whole family! If I sponsor Sunita and your sponsor Punita, we could combine forces and really lift them from the clutches of poverty!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Education Changes in the Philippines

I've been reading some more about the in-process changes to the education system in the Philippines, because I was wondering whether Jie and Joyce (both 15 and, under the old system, Seniors in high school in the coming school year) would be graduating and moving on to college or they'd be continuing on into two more years of high school under the new system.

I have read that "current 4th Year students in high school in S.Y. 2014-2015 are exempted in this program." The new 11th grade will be implemented in 2016 and the new 12th grade in 2017. So it seems that they will graduate and, if they choose, go to college.

There are some other interesting changes that are taking effect with the new education system. In the old system, instruction occurred in English. Now, English isn't even begun until the second semester of first grade. "In Kindergarten, the pupils are mandated to learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors through games, songs, and dances, but in their mother tongue; thus after Grade 1, every student can read on his/her mother tongue." For the second semester of grade one and throughout second and third grade they study English with an emphasis on oral fluency. From grade four, Filipino and English as a medium of instruction will both be used. There are specific subjects that will be taught in each language; English will be used for English, Science and Technology, Home Economics and Livelihood Education.

Reasoning behind the shift in instructional language use: "Though elementary schooling is compulsory, as of 2010 it was reported that 27.82% of Filipino elementary-aged children either never attend or never complete elementary schooling, usually due to the absence of any school in their area, education being offered in a language that is foreign to them, or financial distress. In July 2009 DepEd moved to overcome the foreign language issue by ordering all elementary schools to move towards initial mother-tongue based instruction (grades 1–3). The order allows two alternative three-year bridging plans. Depending on the bridging plan adopted, the Filipino and English languages are to be phased in as the language of instruction for other subjects beginning in the third and fourth grades."

There's a lot more info to dig through on the Wikipedia article, and there is a chart showing the integration of the new grades in the "2010s and the K-12 program" section.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spotlight Child of the Week, 4/14/14

Four-year-old Ma. Alliah Nicole Beralde lives with her parents and two siblings in the Philippines. The family of five struggles to survive on an income of only $34 per month. They can barely put food on their table, and have no hope of creating a safe, solid home--their current house is constructed of bamboo, plywood and palm leaf. Ma. Alliah is too young for school. She enjoys playing with her siblings, dancing, and singing. With your help, Ma. Alliah's family will have peace of mind knowing that there will be food on their table and medical attention will be available when she falls ill. Won't you put the smile of hope on this little girl's face?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Photos!

 Here's twelve-year-old Cristine, our group-sponsored child from Quezon City in the Philippines! Photo taken April 11, 2014.
And here's fifteen-year-old Joyce from Tabaco in the Philippines! Photo taken April 10, 2014.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spotlight Child of the Week, 4/6/2014

Meet four-year-old Madelyn Andrea! This cutie lives with her parents and a sibling in Guatemala. They live in an adobe home with dirt floors and unregulated electricity access. Madelyn enjoys playing with dolls, cars and other toys. She speaks Cakchiquel. Her fifth birthday is coming up soon on April 17th -- imagine what an amazing birthday present it would be for her to have a caring, supportive Sponsor enter her life!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jie's Fifteenth Birthday

In February I sent an SNG for Jie's fifteenth birthday n March 11, and today I received the follow-up report and photos! Jie used the entire amount to purchase groceries for her family.

In her thank-you letter, Jie wrote:

Dear Sponsor,
Hi, how are you? I hope you're doing fine. I'm so happy for the special donation that you sent to me in honor of my birthday. I purchased grocery items for the whole family. It will serve as a very big help for the entire family. I'm very thankful for having you as very kind-hearted person. My family and I would like to extend our deepest gratitude. Take care always and God bless!
Your sponsored child,
Jie Ann

What were the child's/family's comments when the gifts were delivered?
Jie Ann profoundly thanks her sponsor for the thoughtfulness in remembering her 15th birthday. She extremely felt the joy and excitement while selecting the food commodities in their home and those that they would be needing to prepare a simple meal for her birthday. Too, her parents were intensely thankful for making their daughter's birthday a very memorable one.

How will the gifts benefit the child and/or family?
Jie Ann happily received the bountiful supply of food commodities. The gifts enabled Jie Ann and her family prepare a simple meal with her favorite rice noodles dish and some sweet treats to celebrate her 15th birthday. The rest of the grocery items provided the family with food for their everyday needs. It saved them from buying their needs using their own money. It's indeed a big blessing for them to be accorded with help in their difficult times.

Jie with her parents, Aida and Gregorio.
It's interesting that they bought nothing but food, and worrisome that the report mentions "their difficult times." I wonder if something has changed in their family recently to reduce their already-meager income? Jie's has always been one of the poorest of my families, but they have been pretty stable for the past seven years and with previous SNGs, they chose a combination of food and other items (clothes, dishes, a watch and umbrella). Her parents are getting older, and I wonder if Gregorio is finding it harder to work as a carpenter? I'm anxious to see her next Family Report and find out if anything has changed in that regard.

Fundraiser: Anna Marie's Fourth Semester

I am super excited to announce that the fundraiser for Anna Marie's fourth semester of college is being hosted by Aura's House! The organization is non-profit, staffed entirely by volunteers, and works directly with Children International to raise funds for life-changing projects for the children and communities. What makes them special is that 100% of donations go directly to CI ... no fees are withheld from the money that is raised! I've been on the waiting list for nearly a year, and I'm so happy that Anna's chance has come!

And so without further ado ...

Anna Marie is eighteen years old. She graduated from high school in 2013 and, with the help of Children International, all of you, and me, she has been attending a state college near her home. She is studying in a Bachelor's of Science program for Business Management with an emphasis on Human Resource Development. For her first semester, Anna Marie took nine classes and achieved an average of 90%!

Anna Marie is dedicated and hard working, and I have a deep belief that she is going to go far in life. In every letter she expresses not only gratitude, but a desire to help her entire family. In particular, she has mentioned her younger siblings. Anna envisions being able to pay forward the help she is receiving now by paying for her brother and sister to attend college when their time comes.

Any amount you can contribute will be greatly appreciated! Truly, no amount is too big or too small ... it all adds up to a brighter future for Anna Marie and her whole family!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Letter from Anna Marie

I received a CP letter from Anna Marie today!

Dear Ms. Dillon,

A pleasant day to you, your family and your special someone! Hope both of you in a good health as well as like me.

I'm so happy to receive letters and card that you're sending to me and it's so beautiful and impressive. It's so nice to hear that you are very proud of me. Now this second semester I have nine classes also which makes me so busy and need more efforts because I together with my groupmates make thesis, interpretative dance, and preparing Human Resource Development Management Day Pageant which is about pageant. I'm one of the organizers of our section. We make dresses made of recycled materials to show our creativity. My favorite class is physical education because I love dancing and to show my talent to them.

I'm so very thankful to you and to your family for your continuous support in my studies. May God bless you always.

With prayer,
Anna Marie

Nine classes, wow! I love that she's had the opportunity to continue dancing and I'm proud to hear that she's active in the pageant organization!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spotlight Child of the Week, 3/29/14

I've been very remiss in keeping this blog updated, but life is finally settling back to normal and I should be able to post more regularly now!

Two little girls in the Philippines have caught my eye each of the last several times I've looked through the list of waiting children, and they will be my Spotlight Children this week:

Alyzon Anne lives with her parents and one sibling in a plywood house with a dirt floor. They have non-regulated electricity and they must get their water from a neighbor's faucet. With a family income of only $87 a month, they have little hope of a bright future for five-year-old Alyzon. You can change that for them by becoming her Sponsor.

Four-year-old Xyriel lives with her parents and five siblings on a monthly income of only $134. The family is fortunate to have regulated electricity access, but they must get their water from faucets in their community. This sweet angel has to sleep on the concrete floor of her family's home without even a mat to cushion her. You can bring comfort and hope to her life by becoming her Sponsor.

The Love Bomb Project

The Love Bomb project started on Children International's old Sponsor-networking site, LiftOne (which has now been replaced with "My Social Center"). A couple of Sponsors had some costly projects they wanted to fund for their children, and they realized that if every member of LiftOne donated $1-$2, they could easily fund the projects. So each week, a different fundraiser from the waiting list was featured as the target for Love Bombing -- a lot of great projects were funded with hundreds of small donations! There are all different types of fundraisers: paying for home improvements for a family, building a library at a community center, funding the tuition and fees for a child's education, setting up a business venture to help the family earn more income themselves ...

Over time, though, it became apparent that the Love Bombing was *mostly* being done by a few same repeat donors, and those Sponsors were becoming burnt out. The frequency was reduced to a new target every other week. Then, the Sponsor who had been coordinating the rotation had life happen and could no longer devote the time to running it. Another Sponsor took over, but we have since lost her as well.

So now I have volunteered to try and revitalize it. The new networking site has seen an influx of participation from sponsors who never used LiftOne, so the time is ripe to get new people involved! I'll be featuring the first target on April 1st, and I already have the spreadsheet set up to track the rotation and how successful the project is.

I won't be asking my friends and family to donate to each and every one of these fundraisers, of course--that would be absurd and annoying! You will see me announce the new target and share the link every other week, though--if one strikes your fancy as a worthwhile project, please do feel free to donate a dollar or two, and/or to share the link with your contacts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Anna Marie's First Semester: Grades!

Anna Marie with a classmate.
I've received the final report for Anna Marie's first semester of college! She took a whopping NINE classes, including an all-day English class on Saturdays.

Her grades (GPE, letter equivalent) and courses were:
(1.5, A-) MTH 001 (Math)
(2.25, B-) SSC 001 (some sort of social science)
(1.75, B+) FIL 111 (Filipino, the equivalent of us taking English in college)
(1.75, B+) PHI 001 (philosophy)
(1.25, A) NSTP 1 (National Service Training Program, required for two semesters)
(2.0, B) ABS 001 (I can't read the teacher's handwriting very well. May be NBS, or ABC or NBC)
(1.5, A-) NSC 001 (natural science)
(2.0, B) ENG 111 (English)
(1.0, A+) P_O 111 (missing the middle letter, same teacher whose writing I couldn't read before).

Their system is stricter than here in the USA. It varies a bit from college to college, but at her school a "B" is 86%-88%, and a "B-" is 83%-85%. Her GWA of 1.6 is the equivalent of a 90% average! I'm so proud of her!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anna Marie's First Semester Report

I received the final report for Anna Marie's first semester, and the news is fantastic! She passed all of her classes, and by now is part-way through her second semester.

Her letter says:

Dear Ms. Dillon,

A pleasant day to you! I hope you're fine and okay upon receiving this letter of mine.

Thank you for continued support to my studies now that I'm here in college. With your support I was able to finish my first semester, so I just want to thank you a lot and because of you I was able to start achieving my ambition to help my family and other siblings to finish their studies, too. I'm blessed and lucky to have you in my life.

More thanks to you for your sharing of your blessings to me. May God bless you always.

With Prayers,
Anna Marie

The report states that she was very happy to finish her first semester and is enrolled in the same course for her second semester. It also says her grades are attached ... but they're not. Whoops! I'll have to email C.I. about that, because I'm definitely curious!

They also included a "Beneficiary Information" page which says:

When Anna Marie received the donation that was intended for her continued education, she feels really blessed and grateful for the help she received from the sponsor. She knew the responsibility along with the support that is given to her. Anna Marie ensures that she's focused in order to give all of her time and effort in her studies. She is proud to be able to pass all her subjects during her first semester. Now, she's already continuing as a first year, second semester Bachelor of Science in Business Administration major in Human Resource Development Management.

Anna Marie was completely delighted and happy to share that she doesn't have to worry where to get her school expenses. Now, she has the bigger chance to lift their family from impoverishment as soon as she will be graduated and have her stable job. Mr. and Mrs. Arroyo want to share their warm thanks to the sponsor for the excessive support given to their family.

And it included a final, itemized expense report for the semester:

School fee for first semester: $72.96
School uniforms: $157.35
Educational support, June-Dec.: $396.38
School supplies: $73.40
Costume and field trip fee: $25.32
School fee for second semester: $24.84
Reserved for educational expenses for second semester: $149.75
Grand Total: $900

Woohoo! I was quite interested to see the itemized list--I was excited to see that the school fee for the second semester was already paid, and there was money left over! I sent the same amount again in September for the second semester, but knowing there was a cushion in case paperwork or processing took a little longer than expecting is definitely a comfort--her schooling wouldn't be interrupted.

Anna Marie turned eighteen last month--we've only got a year left before she graduates from the C.I. program! I'm going to have to decide how I want to go about financing the rest of her college education when that time arrives ... in the meantime, I have a fundraiser set up for her third semester (you can see it here). It's doing quite well already, thanks to Christmas, the Love Bomb, and Macky's winnings from the Aura's House raffle, which she generously gifted to Anna Marie's college fund!