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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 4 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago