Eugene Cho

an update on our global poverty initiative

Thank you for your support and interest in our vision to engage the fight against extreme global poverty.  While we’re not ready to publicly release the name of our initiative and organization, this is our attempt to keep folks updated on the progress of our initiative and organization.

I have some both good and bad news to share during this Feb/March update.   As I shared in the December ’08 update, this has been one of the most humbling seasons of our life. When we went public with our vision to give our year’s salary to start this poverty initiative, we had absolutely no idea what was in store with the financial crisis and meltdown. Our convictions have been tested but each time we think about how “bad” we have it, we’re reminded of the grave situation for the poorest of the poor – those affected by “extreme global poverty” – some of whom I saw with my own eyes during a recent trip to South Africa.

Here’s 6 Updates on our Progress:

  • VISION TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA. I had a chance to visit South Africa recently.  Through the generosity of an anonymous benefactor from New York, I went to visit the Kwazulu Natal area of South Africa for research, relationship building, and visioning.  The Kwazulu Natal area is marked by much poverty and nearly 40% of its residents are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.  There are some pictures below and I also shot this video of some observations during my visit to SA.  We hope to partner with couple NGOs there for the great work that they are doing to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty.  While I am a Christian pastor, our vision seeks to change global issues of injustice effecting millions of people regardless of race, culture, sex, age, or religion.

  • FACEBOOK. On Saturday, February 14, our Facebook Group – which can be accessed at http://fightglobalpoverty.com – surpassed 300,000 members. It’s pretty amazing considering we started the group on May 15, 2008.  If we’re able to launch our initiative by this summer, we’ll likely have about 500,000 people via Facebook thtat we contact and invite to a) visit our website, 2) consider joining our cause, and 3) asking to help spread the word.  While there are no guarantees if folks will ultimately support our organization, it confirms our aspiration for our initiative in helping change the world:

Human Relationships + Technology + [Vision] =

possibility of a global viral movement

  • IRS. Some bad news.  We finally received a letter that our application was denied – but currently have 90 days to appeal.  What was complexing was that it shared that they sent out two previous letters asking for more information and because we didn’t contact them, they were saying ‘No.’   What’s upsetting?  We never received those letters.  Regardless, because this is so important, we have decided to work with a Seattle lawyer specializing in non-profit law and hope to report some progress in the upcoming months as we appeal the decision and get the IRS the additional information they need.
  • THE HOUSE. As some of you may have read before, our plan was to sell our rental home in order to make this pledge of donating a year’s salary to the cause + some additional funds.  We had the home on the market for six months and were unsuccessful.   Because we were taking a financial hit, we had to resume renting the home this past month.  This has been a pretty frustrating aspect since we need to sell the home to honor our personal pledge and will need to be open and creative in the upcoming year.
  • VOLUNTEERS. Because we’re on ‘hibernation mode,’ we currently don’t have a regular staffperson but are using some limited funds to receive help for the building of the website and some limited administrative help.  When we hear from the IRS, we’ll consider the possibilities of bringing on a regular staffperson.
  • WEBSITE. A local and gifted web designer and friend, Joseph Robert Lee,  is doing some work to build out our website.  We’re not yet ready to publicly release the name and website but here’s a mini glimpse of what it looks like now.  We hope to have the homepage out by next month.

download

How You Can Help?

  • Join our Facebook Group and invite as many people as possible. We’ve started this group to raise awareness and mobilize people when we launch the group. Please share the group on your status, posted items, etc.
  • Please keep us in prayer. It’s been a tough and humbling time. For several months, Minhee and I were feeling pretty down but we know it’s going to work out but I needed to get over things not working out the way I wanted. Specifically, keep the 501(c)(3) process and our home situation in prayer.  We’re currently renting out our home but it would be great if our current renters wanted to purchase the home.
  • Consider making a donation. I have no qualms inviting and challenging people to join us. We’ve pledged our year’s salary – $68K in 2009 – and additional funds over the next few years to total $100K. And we invite you to join us in seeding this vision. We’re hoping to raise a minimum of an additional $100,000.  Thus far, we’ve received donations and pledges totaling around $44,000  While some have expressed the possible inability to honor their pledges [in light of the financial crisis], we’re still very thankful for the women and men that have chosen to believe in us and join the vision.  If you’re interested in receiving our Vision & Support letter, send me an email at seattlejediknight@gmail.com.  The vision letter will explain why we believe it has the capacity to make an impact. You can also make secure online donation here.

Here’s some photos from my recent trip to South Africa:

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7 Responses

  1. Joseph Lee says:

    Oh snap, looks like I’ve got some work to do. 🙂

  2. Tom says:

    I feel for you. It’s sort of the perfect storm right now for folks trying to start new and important work. All things pass but it’s hard when you’ve got the passion and have to wait.

    I’m sure the IRS thing will work out with some tweaking.

  3. CoachMickey says:

    Hi EC and Joseph,
    I share your pain but let’s see what we can do this weekend at The Idea Camp. I just arrived in Irvine and looking forward to seeing you again later on today.
    Got some ideas that I can share with you regarding some projects underway for my native land, The Philippines.
    Let’s start off the weekend with some prayers and lots of positive interaction. Carpe Diem.
    mickey

  4. […] No one I know is more committed to this fight than our friend Eugene Cho who has started the Global Poverty initiative as a way to reach out to those in extreme poverty.  Eugene has committed far more than a week’s savings on groceries to the cause of overcoming poverty and his story seemed a very appropriate one to share as we look towards this coming week. I have some both good and bad news to share during this Feb/March update.   As I shared in the December ‘08 update, this has been one of the most humbling seasons of our life. When we went public with our vision to give our year’s salary to start this poverty initiative, we had absolutely no idea what was in store with the financial crisis and meltdown. Our convictions have been tested but each time we think about how “bad” we have it, we’re reminded of the grave situation for the poorest of the poor – those affected by “extreme global poverty” – some of whom I saw with my own eyes during a recent trip to South Africa.  Read more […]

  5. Tracy says:

    wow just look at all those beautiful people in those pictures. The pictures are beautiful as well. What a blessing to add South Africa in the Kwazulu Natal area to my prayer list. Thanks for sharing.

  6. […] Do About It? March 16, 2009 at 8:00 am | In asian american, church, communication, justice | Eugene Cho, at The Idea Camp, described the origin of his conviction to start One Day’s Wages. While the […]

  7. Taylor says:

    This is an incredible vision and I applaud you for all the work you have done. I too, have seen poverty and there is nothing more I would love than to see these people, whom I befriended and lived with, exist in better conditions. But this brings me to my question, how will you end global poverty when it is all around us, and has existed since the beginning of human time? There are people, such as the Karen Hill Tribe people living in Burma, who are literally isolated from the rest of the world. The junta controlling Burma don’t allow Westerners to travel within their boarders for more than a week, let alone Westerners bringing aid to say the Karen people. So when you advertise that you are trying to bring an end to global poverty, I am curious how far you have honestly thought this mission through. Do you mean just in South Africa? Or perhaps just the civilizations that are equipped with certain necessities allowing your plans to work better? I do think what you are doing is very encouraging and wonderful, but I don’t think it is entirely wise. Listening to your video, you gave no actual examples of how you would help these people and I am curious what your plans are? I too have been looking for ways to help people around the globe, however we must remember that the there are billions of people, and that their cultures are vital parts of them; many cultures are drawn to American culture, and we must be weary not to influence them to the point they begin to loose their own.
    Thank you.

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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