obama in seattle

On Friday, Feb. 8th Barack Obama gave a rally speech at the Key Arena in Seattle. The place was packed with about 18,000 people and another 3,000 or so gathered outside to listen to the speech (of course their plan was to be inside the arena, but there simply wasn’t enough room). On the way into the Key Arena to deliver his speech, Obama surprised the outdoor crowd by talking with them over a megaphone. His visit was timely as the Washington State caucus was held the following day. Obama won the caucus over Hillary Clinton by more than a 2-1 margin.

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wct event

I covered an event for one of my favorite clients, West Coast Trucking, this past weekend. Many awards were given to drivers, highlighting their service to the company. The event was a black-tie affair, headlined with an Elvis impersonator! It was special to be a part of the event and hang around such a great group of people._mg_6694b.jpg_mg_6744b.jpg  _mg_6796b.jpg_mg_6555b.jpg _mg_6572b.jpg _mg_6892b.jpg_mg_6600b.jpg_mg_7055b.jpg_mg_6576b.jpg 

fundraising

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As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to spend part of this year on a photography project in India and Nepal. More than any of my previous assignments, this one has awakened an urgency in me to aid those who live in devastating poverty. I’m hoping that if I tell you a little about the people I met who willingly aid those in such deep need, you’ll find your own heart opening—both to them, and to the people they serve.

In the descriptions that follow, I hope to show you just a little about these 13 different volunteer-run ministries, shelters, and orphanages where I have worked and made connections with many remarkable people. Some of these courageous organizations provide safe, loving homes for children rescued from desperate living conditions; others provide assistance to people in other sorts of grave need—and especially, to families and children who have nowhere to live but the streets.

Each of these organizations operates solely on donations and not one of them has a large endowment fund; most of them survive from month to month. So I’m asking you (and I guess I really mean: I’m pleading with you) to try to identify one or more ways that you can help one or more of these groups to continue putting their loving visions into practice. Some ways include praying and encouragement, of course, but some that also go beyond those things are vital too: like raising money, or sending some of your own; and maybe even working as a volunteer at one of their locations!

And of course, if you simply can’t give in any way at this time, please do take the time to learn a little about these heroic people and all the outstanding work they do. If you find yourself moved by what you learn, perhaps you could at the very least forward a link for this page to someone who might be interested and might be able to help.

If you can contribute financially, and desire to do so, let me suggest that you make out your donation checks directly to Streams of Mercy, the non-profit fundraising organization that sent me on this project to begin with. Please enclose a separate piece of paper with your check, identifying the country, the city and the name of the organization or organizations to which you want your contribution forwarded. Streams of Mercy will send along the funds for you, and then return you a receipt for your tax-deductible donation. Here’s their mailing address:

Streams of Mercy

P.O. Box 3220

Mc Kinney, TX 75070

www.streamsofmercy.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6DqND_iECs

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MINISTRIES

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street children

Project Howrah in Kolkata (formerly named Calcutta) is reaching out to street children living at the Howrah train station. Many of the children are addicted to drugs.

Most of kids at the station who do drugs inhale a glue called Dendrite, which gives a quick, powerful high. The glue is placed on a small rag, and the fumes are inhaled through the mouth. The kids will do this all day.

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The unruly environment at the station makes breaking drug addictions nearly impossible while living there. Project Howrah is currently focused on opening an overnight shelter where they can help the children combat their addictions while providing them with food, stability, and a sleeping place where they are safe both from criminals and from the police. (Police brutality is a constant threat to people living on the streets in India.)

In the meanwhile, until they can make their shelter a reality, the Project Howrah staff visits the children five days a week at the station, building friendships and offering minor medical assistance and counseling.

Current needs—

Project Howrah needs $125 every month to continue their visits to the children living at the station. In addition, they need money to cover staff expenses, and to open and maintain a greatly needed full-time shelter.

• Can you commit to a donation, one-time or monthly, of $20–$200 to help this ministry?

For more information, send mail to Dener, founder of Project Howrah:

projwb@gmail.com

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Passion Ministry, located in Mumbai (formerly named Bombay), focuses on helping street children— particularly boys addicted to drugs—who live in and around Victoria Terminus train station.

Like the children living at Howrah station, most of the Mumbai street children are addicted to inhaling solvents—in this case, a substance something like paint thinner, that comes in a small glass vial.

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These kids live in tough conditions, and the Passion Ministry people do what they can to provide minor medical aid, counseling, and food. The staff invests further by playing sports with the kids, giving them free haircuts, and accompanying them on a weekly outing to a place where they can safely swim and wash their clothes.

The ministry hopes to open a shelter to provide educational training courses, day care for preschool kids (who currently have no alternative to begging), and an orphanage for the street boys.

Current needs—

I have yet to receive financial information for this ministry’s monthly expenses. (As you might expect, any donation will help—and the greater the donation, the greater the help.)

• Can you commit to a donation, one-time or monthly, of $20–$200 to help this ministry?

For more information, send mail to Jerish, founder of Passion Ministry:

mumbaistreet@gmail.com

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leprosy

The National Leper Relief and Rehabilitation Ministry (NLRRW), is currently working in more than 35 communities for people with leprosy in and around Chennai (formerly named Madras). It’s their goal to treat, cure, and eventually eradicate leprosy throughout India.

Although the physical effects of leprosy cannot be reversed, it is possible, with the proper medication and treatment, to stop the spread of leprosy in one’s body.

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The NLRRW, established nine years ago, is actively involved in helping those affected by leprosy become more self-sufficient. At present, they organize wells to be dug, build public toilets and teach agriculture. They serve the communities further through food distribution, counseling and spiritual guidance, medical work, and they manufacture custom-made shoes that properly support feet altered by leprosy.

Additionally, NLRRW operates the Little Lights Children’s Home, which is currently home to 28 children who previously lived in leprosy communities. Before leaving the communities, these children were often outcasts, socially isolated and barred from quality education—all too often forced to join their parents as beggars on the street. Now these same children have been given a new beginning, free from the blighting stigma leprosy carries. When possible, parents visit their children monthly.

Current needs—

I have yet to receive financial information for this ministry’s monthly expenses. As one might expect, donations would help greatly. The people at NLRRW are both very active and highly efficient, and with proper funding, they could reach a much larger circle of people.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this ministry?

For more information, send mail to Anil, founder of NLRRW:

anilrose@gmail.com

You can also visit:

http://www.ywamchennai.org/ministries_lepers.html

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widows

The Widow’s House, “Asha Bhavan” (Hope House, in Hindi), is located near Varanasi (formerly named Benares). Out of an estimated 33 million Indian widows (India has the largest widow population in the world), some 20,000 live in Varanasi.

Historically in Hindu culture, widowhood was considered a curse. A widow was ritually impure, and could not participate in the household work; often, she was left to care for herself. In many cases, living this way moved the widow to commit Sati (suttee), a form of suicide-by-immolation. Sati is now illegal, but widows still suffer from strong prejudices. In extreme cases, a widow is made to wear only unattractive clothing, to shave her head, and to beg for food. Thankfully, some of these practices are on the decline.

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As a way to meet the particular needs of widows, the two-building facility of Asha Bhavan was constructed to provide housing and support for up to 50 widows. In addition, the facility is outfitted with a large kitchen housing professional-scale baking equipment, where the widows can learn how to bake biscuits, bread, sweets, and cakes. The baked goods are sold locally, generating income for monthly expenses.

Current needs—

The Widow’s Home was built over several years when donations were received, so there is no accumulated debt. Monthly operating costs, however, still arise every month. It currently takes about $500 to cover a month’s worth of housing and food.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this ministry?

For more information, send mail to Narendra, a volunteer at Asha Bhavan:

withlove_4you@hotmail.com

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schools

Very close to the Widow’s House, in two rented rooms of a two-story building, twenty children from very poor families attend a small school designed to help them prepare to attend government-run schools when their ready.

A few of the children attending here live with their families under plastic tarps next to the railroad tracks. These people often eat no more than one or two meals a day, consisting of the throwaway parts of chickens—the skin, and the intestines—collected from a nearby slaughterhouse.

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During the first year of operation, with the help of the volunteer teachers, eight children moved on into good-quality schools. This educational advancement can mean a significantly advanced standard of living—not only for the children, but for their families as well.

Current needs—

It only takes about $200 a month to help provide clothing for the whole group of 20 children, to provide each of them with two additional meals a week, to cover the expenses of the four volunteer teachers, and to pay tuition for any children who are accepted into the government-run schools.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this school?

For more information, send mail to Narendra, principle of school:

withlove_4you@hotmail.com

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Asha Deep Vidyashram is a school located in the ancient and holy city of Varanasi, that specializes in helping poor children of illiterate parents.

As might be expected, parents who have not learned to read and write are often unable to find good jobs; and this often means that they must put their children to work to keep the family from starving. India is said to possibly have more than 15 million children aged 14 years and younger working—more than any other country in the world.

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Asha Deep Vidyashram really started when a deeply concerned teacher began realizing the unique needs faced by children of illiterate parents. Now in its fourth year, this specialized school has already proven itself to be an effective tool in breaking the cycle of illiteracy, which in turn combats the plight of child labor.

Current needs—

It only takes $700 a month to keep this remarkable school running at its current capacity of over 100 children, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this school?

For more information, send mail to Connie, principal of school:

connierao@gmail.com

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SHELTERS

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House of Hope, in south Kolkata, is hard at work in a neighborhood where large numbers of people live on the street. The first problem is that the streets of south Kolkata are a dangerous place to live — especially for girls.

Many of the children here have at least one living parent; but with or without a family, survival on the streets is both risky and difficult. One of the biggest challenges facing girls who live on the streets is the fear and reality of abuse— like being abducted and sold into prostitution, or being molested or sexually abused, or possibly being forced into an early marriage (something some parents/guardians think might better protect the girls from such abuses; yet many of the girls are not physically, mentally, or emotionally prepared for marriage).

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Each week, Monday through Friday, 25 to 40 children walk to the House of Hope shelter to take a bath (if the shelter has water that day), receive food, change their dirty clothes for washed ones, play with toys, and benefit from a course of basic education.

Meanwhile, in response to the concerns of the girls who live on the streets, House of Hope is also actively working to open an overnight shelter that will begin by housing five girls at risk of abuse.

Current needs—

The monthly costs of running the day shelter come to about $800, while the start-up cost of the overnight shelter for girls is around $1700. Once the overnight shelter is up and running, $750 to $800 a month will keep it open.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this shelter?

For more information, send mail to Lochumlo, founder of House of Hope:

lochodyuo@yahoo.com

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The children living on the streets of Pokhara, Nepal usually sleep under burlap sacks on the sidewalks at a bus station.

These street children—most of them boys—range in age from six years old into their teens. To earn enough money for food, they sort through trash, looking for recyclable items they can sell.

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A day shelter was established two years ago as a safe refuge where these street kids can rest, play games, eat snacks, and get a little basic education. Two Nepalese men are looking after the children at the shelter—and staying busy. Twenty to thirty children may drop in on any particular day. The founder is hoping to adopt one or two of the boys, and is raising money to build a home for them.

Current needs—

With the current budget, the shelter is open five days a week, but can only afford to serve one meal to the children during those five days. I have yet to receive financial information for this ministry’s monthly expenses. As one might expect, donations would help greatly.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this ministry?

Please contact me with your questions/comments:

ascribeimages@gmail.com

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Rescue and Restore Shelter is a full-time shelter that currently provides a home for 31 former street children.

In Chennai there are approximately 150,000 children living on the streets. Many of them have been abandoned or orphaned, while others have left home to escape abuse or because of financial problems.

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For the past nine years, Rescue and Restore has focused on its mission of giving these children hope and a future. Currently, they are working on a strategy to purchase land outside of the city on which to build a full-time shelter, where they can help kids in need even more effectively.

Among their other services, staff members visit families on the streets, and send medical teams into a large slum in the city. The teams assess the medical needs of the community, and directly administer as much medical aid as they can.

Current needs—

I have yet to receive financial information for this ministry’s monthly expenses. As one might expect, donations would help greatly. These guys are taking care of lots of children, and they have extended their staff in order to be able to help many more people in and around their community.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this shelter?

For more information, send mail to Freddy & Daisy, founders of Rescue and Restore:

rescueandrestore@myrealbox.com

You can also visit:

http://www.ywamchennai.org/ministries_streetkids.html

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Hope of Glory Foundation, located in the city of Pune, was started 13 years ago by a man who wanted to get children safely off of the streets by offering them a new, safe living environment.

Like every other large Indian city, Pune has multiple generations of families living in very harsh conditions on the streets. Survival is a daily struggle, and for most of these people there is very little hope of change for the better.

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For several years now, street children (with their parents’ consent) have made frequent visits to the shelter, where they can get a bath and a haircut, eat, do crafts, and engage in some basic education. After the kids have had a few blessed hours away from the streets, staff members accompany them safely back to their families.

Currently, this combination orphanage and shelter is also the fulltime home of 18 former street children. These children’s health, education, and general wellbeing are of central importance at Hope of Glory Foundation. In addition to caring for the kids at the shelter, staff members also take time to visit the families still living on the streets, where many of the children themselves used to live.

Current needs—

It takes approximately $1500 each month to support the staff and keep the orphanage running.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this shelter?

For more information, send mail to Joy, the founder of Hope of Glory Foundation:

joyjd@hotmail.com

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ORPHANAGES

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House of Peace Orphanage, located in Delhi, is a well-maintained home for children rescued from dire conditions on the streets.

Like many poor children in India, some of the House of Peace kids were forced at a young age to beg (or to sift through trash for recyclable items) just in order to survive. These same children now have the opportunity not only to attend school, but also to learn computer and tailoring skills, and to receive music lessons.

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House of Peace is in its seventh year of operation, and is currently home to 29 children. The founders (called Papa and Mommy by all of the children) are highly effective and completely dedicated to the health, happiness, and success of ‘their’ 29 kids.

Current needs—

It only takes about $2000 each month to keep House of Peace open, but the group is currently facing huge financial hurdles. If long-term monthly support is not forthcoming, and soon, these children could lose their home.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this orphanage?

For more information, send mail to Shaji & Claudia, founders of House of Peace:

shajiclaudia@sent.com

You can also visit:

http://houseofpeaceindia.org

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AIDS

The Project AIDS through Care & Training (P.A.C.T) orphanage in Chennai cares for ten children who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Nine of the children contracted HIV congenitally from their mothers; the tenth child was infected during a sexual assault. All ten children are loved without conditions by an Indian couple and by the other volunteers, all of whom consider it a blessing to be able to help care for these kids.

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In addition to running the orphanage, P.A.C.T. assists their community by providing home-based care (raising money to build houses for homeless families), by running a women’s hospice (where care is given to women and their children), and by fundraising to cover tuition expenses for over 150 local families marginalized by HIV/AIDS, who could not otherwise afford to send their children to school.

Current needs—

P.A.C.T. needs $600 a month for the orphanage, $500 a month for home-based care, and $1000 a month for the women’s hospice — a monthly contribution of just $2100 would cover all three operations. (And just $40 covers one child’s school fees, uniforms, and supplies for a whole year!)

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this orphanage?

For more information, send mail to Wilson and Elzy, founders of P.A.C.T.:

jdwilson@pactywam.org | elzywilson@eth.net

You can also visit:

http://www.ywamchennai.org/ministries_aids.html

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‘low caste’

There is a small orphanage on the outskirts of Kathmandu, (Nepal’s largest city) that is currently home to four ‘low caste’ children.

A Nepalese man and his wife learned about these four children, each of whom was being persecuted because of the families’ social status. Each of the children was considered tainted: they were spat upon and in other ways degraded by ‘higher-caste’ people living in their village.

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Unable to ignore the situation, the couple is now caring for the children in their modest home. Their courage and unconditional love is affording these kids the security and acceptance they so deeply need and deserve.

Current needs—

It takes $100 a month to cover the expense of giving a home to all four children.

• Can you commit to a one-time or monthly donation of $20–$200 or more to help this orphanage?

Please contact me with your questions/comments:

ascribeimages@gmail.com

 

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Well, this concludes the ‘fundraising’ blog. It goes without saying that I was deeply affected by many of the people in the above photos—and I hope you can begin to see why. If I can answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. Thank you so much for looking over all of this.

Blessings,

Nathan

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buddhism

Although most people in India and Nepal are Hindus, Buddhism has for thousands of years had followers in both countries. Siddhartha Gautama was born in present-day Nepal, then journeyed to present-day India and lived there for the remainder of his life. Most of the images here were made in Bodhgaya, India, where Gautama gained enlightenment — that is, where he became aware of his own Buddha-hood — making it a very sought-after pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. There are also a few images from Sarnath (also in India), where he first taught his philosophy, and from Kathmandu in Nepal.

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