Friday, September 14, 2018
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Marc Gold travels Asia paying it forward through little acts of kindness
'Shoestring philanthropist' Gold pairs tiny but powerful donations with acts of kindness
Marc Gold spends most of his time on the road. One month he may be in India or Afghanistan; the next he's in Cambodia or Vietnam, both of which he's visited numerous times.
But he doesn't travel to see the sights. The retired community-college professor from San Francisco pursues his own brand of tourism: philanthropic travel.
"I go where the poor people are," Mr. Gold says.
He slogs muddy dirt tracks to far-flung Tibetan villages, scouts garbage heaps teeming with destitute scavengers in Indonesia, and legs it around slums in India.
Everywhere he goes, Gold performs acts of kindness, both random and preplanned. He hands out soccer balls and art supplies to children at a Tibetan orphanage. He helps an elderly scavenger in Sulawesi, Indonesia, open a small grocery store. He buys a year's supply of rice for battered women at a shelter in Jaipur, India.
He rarely spends more than a few hundred dollars. "For people who live on a dollar or less a day, $50 can make a big difference," says Gold, who has been dubbed "the shoestring philanthropist."
As little as $10, he adds, can get a poor child into school. "Imagine saving a woman's life for a dollar, the price of a candy bar [in the US]," he says.
He may have done that in 1989. While visiting Darjeeling in the Indian Himalayas as a tourist, he befriended a young Tibetan refugee and his wife, who kept nursing her ears. Gold, who trained as a psychiatrist, thought she could have a serious ear infection. He found her a doctor and paid for antibiotics, which cost $1. Another $30 got her a hearing aid. She squealed with delight at being able to hear again.
That led to an epiphany. "I'd thought you had to be rich to do such things," he recalls. "I realized I had the power to help change people's lives."
Back home, he asked a hundred friends for small donations and was soon back in India with $2,200. He then set up a nonprofit charity and called it 100 Friends.
Two decades later, 100 Friends has some 4,000 members worldwide, and last year Gold raised $200,000. He continues fundraising via his portable office: a laptop, a digital camera, and a cellphone.
"This is 80 percent of what I own," Gold says during a stopover in Bangkok, pointing at two duffel bags stuffed with his clothes, dog-eared paperbacks, and his large collection of wacky rubber masks.The latter he uses for clowning around with children from Tibet to Thailand. "I don't need much, and I'm free."
A divorcee with two adult sons, Gold took early retirement in 2003 and began devoting himself full time to his mission.
"He focuses on the bang for the buck," says Shon Pistoll, a musician from Philadelphia who accompanied the itinerant philanthropist on his recent six-week trip to India, Gold's 13th visit there. "A donation goes straight from his hand to the hands of people who need it most."
Gold once put a 50 cent piece to good use. It was from a fifth-grader in Los Angeles, who gave Gold his lunch money. He took the coin to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he spent it on a pair of flip-flips for a street child he saw walking around barefoot. The most he's ever spent was also in Afghanistan: $20,000 to build a school in the war-torn country.
He's also built schools in Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Burma (Myanmar). He's helped stock libraries in Vietnam, India, Tibet, and Indonesia. He bought warm blankets for orphans in Malawi in Africa and paid for 500 wheelchairs for disabled people in Vietnam. In Cambodia, he sent a young land-mine victim to vocational training so he wouldn't end up as a beggar. In Nepal, he sponsors 150 young girls, at the price of one goat each, to keep them from being hired out into bonded slavery by their parents.
"Marc has saved me and my family," says Lhamo, a young Tibetan woman who first met Gold near her hometown in China's vast hinterland. "If not for him, I would have spent my whole life [in poverty] on a farm."
Instead, Lhamo has completed a two-year college program in China. Next September she will continue her studies on a scholarship in California. Her younger brother is in school, too. "Marc encourages me to study hard. He's been like a father to me," Lhamo says.
"I want to enable people to support themselves," Gold says.
His help comes with a string attached.
"I have this principle that people have to pay me back – by helping others, by paying it forward," he says.
A man in Calcutta, whose broken-down rickshaw Gold repaired, now takes nuns from Mother Teresa's local mission on their charity rounds free of charge. A fisherman in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, whose boat Gold restored after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, gives away some of his catch to poor families.
"Marc told me not to try and save the world," says Dwight Turner, a teacher from Atlanta who was inspired by Gold's work and now runs his own volunteer project for children in Bangkok slums. "He said, 'Help the people you can.' "
• Find 100 Friends at www.100friends.org
Saturday, August 25, 2018
Hanoi, 16th Dec, 2016
Dear the respected sponsor and Ms Hanh,
My name is Pham Van Hung.
My family's situation is that: my dad passed away early and my mum is Phan Thi Tinh. She is the sole breadwinner mother of two sick children born with this hemophilia disease, a type of bleeding disorder
My younger brother is Pham Quang Huy. He was born in 2001 with a muscular dystrophy genetic disorder with his left leg. This disease weakens his left leg muscle, restricts his ability to walk and causes him to be hobbled.
Currently, I also have a muscular dystrophy in my right leg, and my left knee is infectious and constantly in chronic pain. I and my brothers are always in sick and often need to be rushed to the hospital for treatments.
This health condition affects both our ability to play, study and work normally. Also, my mum is getting older over time and become more tired of the increasing workload.
I grow up now and I want to ask my mum for permission to work in Hanoi so that I can at least take some burdens off her shoulder. First of all, it will be closer to my hospital for regular treatments. For such, I will suffer less pain and improve my daily health and working conditions.
Secondly, I want to be independent, to earn a living on my own and gain more exposures to the society so that I could subsequently help to cover part of my family's expenses. There are many types of work in Hanoi, but it is difficult to find a job that suits my health condition. Despite of my hard efforts, I have to give up numbers of good job opportunities
And then, I find online sales business fits my needs and health condition.
However, at first, I still need to find a job to gain more experiences and make a living. This online sales business requires me to have a laptop which I have not had yet.
My goal is to have a laptop so that I can use it to start my online sales business. To achieve this goal, I started working in a coffee shop
But, this low-pay job can only cover my rental fees, daily meal expenses and transportation costs.
In the depths of despair, I thought that I have to give up my dream at last.
And then I found my luck when I met Ms. Hanh. Owing to her help, I have a chance to know the respected sponsors even though there are many other unfortunate people who are also in need of assistance.
On behalf of my family, I want to sincerely appreciate for your kindness and love. With your financial assistance, I can finally achieve my dream and my mum can afford selling vegetables to make ends meet. Thank you for buying me a laptop for my online business.
In my last paragraph, I would like to send my most sincere thankfulness and best wishes to you, and Ms Hahn. And all the respected sponsors for your good health, full of happiness and great success in life and career.
Pham Van Hung
Friday, August 24, 2018
Family near Hanoi being supported by 100 Friends. 100 Friends supports 36 families in partnership with HSCV.
Family near Hanoi being supported by 100 Friends.
The family lives in Khanh Thuong commune of Ba Vi, a rural district to the northwest of Hanoi. Originally part of Ha Tay Province, Ba Vi was incorporated by Hanoi in 2008. On the edge of Vietnam’s northern mountainous region, Ba Vi is a blend of 50% mountains and 50% lowlands. Khanh Thuong commune is located in the lower mountainous region. Relatively poor soil quality and erosion issues due to the hilly topography make farming difficult, furthermore many families have to travel several kilometers each day to tend to their crops. Rats are problematic and destroy a high percentage of the crops each year. There is little opportunity for alternative income sources in the area. Due to the remoteness of the area, children have to travel up to 10 km, (6 miles), to attend school.
Thank you so much for keep helping Duy with scholarship for the last 4 years. Your suport is a great encouragment for the boy and for his family. They are really grateful for your help!
The parents are both farmers. Their small rice-field can provide food for only one season. To get more food, they grow corn and potatoes. The family of four live in a very small house which is just around 20 m2. It was built in 2006. The furniture inside the house is very old. Sometimes when work is available, the father works at construction sites for extra income. This hard construction work helped him earn $50 per month, but it is also very sporadic – not every month. However, he cannot work too hard since he has problem with the back. Although their life is very hard, the parents are happy with the two young sons. But they are concerned a lot about the school expenses every year when the new school year starts.
There is no significant chnage in the family situation for the last year. The family is still living in that very old and small house. There are many cracks on the roof that cannot keep the house dry in rainy season. The parents really want to change the roof but right now they cannot afford it yet. The father has herniated disc that makes his back painful and he cannot work. Most of the time he just stays at home and helps his wife taking care of the children. The mother, thus is the breadwinner of the family. Her work is mainly farming. She is also hired to peel off the bark for the carpenter workshop. She earns around 1 million dong per month (approx. $43 USD). The cow that the family bought from the HSCV’s loan produced a calf last year. They sold it for 6 million dong (approx. 260 USD). The burden of the family of 4 is still very heavy on the mother’s shoulders.
Sponsorship Availability and History
The family was introduced to HSCV since 2012. Manh has received scholarship from HSCV since 2014. Duy has received since 2015. He was also donated with a new bicycle early 2015. You also supported them to buy pomelo trees in 2015. In 2016, the family received a loan from HSCV to buy a cow to the rear and a donation to build a cowshed.
If you have any questions or comments, please email our Sponsorship Team at email@example.com
The mother and sons in front of the house
Inside the house
The mother with the cow and calf
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