Eugene Cho

new york times: do-it-yourself foreign aid

Got some really cool news to share with you. Literally…cool and inspiring news.

I had the most surreal phone call while I was fishing in Nebraska during my vacation. A guy named Nicholas Kristof called. For those that don’t know, Kristof is one of my favorite writers and he’s also a two time Pulitzer winning columnist for the New York Times. He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, are also the authors of a phenomenal book called Half the Sky. Somehow he had heard about our story and of One Day’s Wages and wanted to chat – without any promises – of a possible inclusion in a special feature he was writing for the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

That article, The D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution, was published in today’s New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Every time someone mentions or writes about our story, I feel the importance of trying to share how ODW was so much of a community thing. We are not an island to ourselves. So many have inspired, encouraged, and prayed for us.

And so, I again want to extend to my blog readers, friends, and larger community – sincere thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement.

Thank you.

Your prayers, belief, and generosity in helping “seed” the vision has allowed ODW to move forward. Amazingly, we were able to raise $71,797 (mostly through this blog) to help launch ODW. And as I’ve shared before, Minhee and I are

grateful and humbled by God’s grace and favor.

Read this article. I say this not because Minhee and I are amongst those featured in the article but because it’s simply a phenomenal article about courage, generosity, and about average folks – especially women – seeking to change the world. They are – per the title of the article – “doing it yourself.”

The grace in all this?

the best part of wanting to change the world is that you’ll get changed in the process.

The article includes numerous stories including the inspiring story of Maggie Doyne (pictured above):

Maggie Doyne began her philanthropic work in a remote and war-ravaged area of Nepal as a 19-year-old financed by her baby-sitting savings. Now, at age 23, she’s running an orphanage and a school for 220 students.

Let me caution you that it’s a very long article as it’s a “magazine essay” but it’s worth reading the entire thing and passing it on.

One thing I’d like to clarify in the article is that I don’t feel comfortable describing our time of subletting our home as being “homeless.” We chose to sublet our home in hopes of saving the necessary funds to honor our pledge. We also have plenty of friends and community that would have offered up their couches and extra rooms for us – as was the case. The majority of the “homeless” simply do not and we need to do more to support them but that’s another post (and a big project I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks).

Here’s the portion about our story from the article:

In Seattle, for example, a couple named Eugene and Minhee Cho are encouraging middle-class Americans to think of themselves as philanthropists, every bit as much as Bill Gates is. Eugene is a minister and Minhee a stay-at-home mom who looks after their three children but recently returned to grad school. They were moved by the suffering they’d seen around the world, but they weren’t well off and didn’t know what they could do to make a difference. Then Eugene happened to take a trip to Burma, visited a school and saw how tiny sums could keep children in class. “That kind of wrecked my life,” Eugene says, laughing.

After the trip, they resolved that for one year they would donate all their earnings — Eugene’s salary of $68,000 — to Burmese education and other charities to show that you don’t have to be a zillionaire to be generous. Later, they founded One Day’s Wages, which asks people to donate a single day’s pay — 0.4 percent of annual income — to various causes and organizations that they have vetted and put on their Web site. Forsaking a year’s salary was a romantic idea when the Chos conceived it, but life without paychecks turned out to be brutal, even humiliating. They exhausted their life’s savings, and Eugene sold his beloved car. With several months to go, they had to sublet their home and become homeless — taking their children and moving onto friends’ couches. “That was the most painful decision I’ve had to make as a father,” Eugene says.

The One Day’s Wages campaign has proved more practicable. In the past year, the Chos have raised more than $400,000, all of which will be forwarded to the organizations they work with. About 60 percent of the donors have been women or girls, they think, the youngest being a 6-year-old who gave up her birthday presents and started a birthday campaign on the onedayswages.org Web site. “The aim is to inspire the everyday person,” Eugene says, summing up the rise of do-it-yourself foreign aid. “We’re trying to communicate that you don’t have to be a rock star or a millionaire to make a difference.” [read full article]

photo credit: Alessandra Petlin for the New York Times

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7 Responses

  1. thejourneywithnoend says:

    AMEN!!

    Thank you for walking it out! You are in our prayers!

    http://www.lohintl.com
    http://www.womanonamission.info

    Matthew 10: 28-33

  2. Ann F-R says:

    That’s wonderful news, Eugene! It’s all the more terrific because your example helps people to understand that every one of us can help/love our neighbors in practical ways. May the Lord continue to bless others through you & your family, and imitate you as you imitate Christ!

  3. Cindy says:

    I can’t believe you just got a phone call from Kristof – it’s so amazing. God is amazing.

  4. g says:

    Nice! NY Times… wow.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Jeff Sloan. Jeff Sloan said: RT Eugene Cho The story behind our story in this past Sunday's NY Times Magazine: http://bit.ly/crYAEJ You really should read both! #fb […]

  6. […] I haven’t decoded it yet.”JR Briggs exploring discipleship. Ted explores godliness … Eugene Cho, good on you!Jamie Arpin-Ricci on volunteerism: “As I’ve dug deeper, I began to see a […]

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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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