February Roundup: Giving Matters


February, my favorite short month flew by, and we’ve already completed a whole month of the #Give10 Reboot.To be completely honest, February didn’t feel short or easy. A lot of things happening around the world have made my heart feel sad. Some days it’s easiest to bury my head in the sand–or more realistically–in my case–search for plane tickets to escape to a tropical island far far away with no internet or CNN reception

Giving has been one small thing to make me feel empowered, and the positive response to #give10 is a great reminder that I’m not alone. Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestion for organizations that are committed to fighting the good fight against injustices of all forms. Thanks to those of you who’ve joined me in protesting inequality with your wallets, and thanks to each of you who’ve offered dialogue and conversation in both support and disagreement in an effort to cross bridges and come to places of mutual understanding.

Here’s a list of the organizations we’ve supported this month. Which ones do you support? Which ones are we missing? Be sure to follow us @Give10 on Facebook and let us know which organizations you’d like to see us support and why.

  1. Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization Portland – IRCO
  2. World Relief Refugee Resettlement
  3. International Rescue Committee
  4. Committee to Protect Journalists
  5. Polaris Project
  6. Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Services
  7. Church World Service
  8. Immigration Counseling Service
  9. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops- USCCB
  10. US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  11. EuroRelief
  12. Catholic Relief Services
  13. Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDCUS)
  14. Giving Cards Challenge
  15. Episcopal Migration Ministries
  16. HIAS
  17. ACLU
  18. PBS
  19. Oregon Symphony
  20. Portland Art Museum
  21. National Parks Conservation Association
  22. Alzheimer’s Association
  23. Raphael House of Portland
  24. Artists for Humanity Boston
  25. Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights
  26. Maternity Africa
  27. Embark Passion Sri Lanka
  28. Trail SL

Onward into March giving!

Practical Activism: The #Give10 Comeback

Give10-Relaunch - 1
Here at wanderingforgood we talk a lot about travel (because it’s awesome), yet we care equally about the “good” part of our name and the “change the world” part of our mission.

As someone who loves the world, and has a strong passion for social justice, I’ve been experiencing a lot of overwhelm lately. Over the last weeks I’ve lost a lot of sleep at all the division, injustice, anger, and uncertainty that seems to be happening all around and watching things that I’m used to seeing in fragile nations happening in my own neighborhood. My heart hurts.

If you’re anything like me perhaps you waiver between putting your congressman on speed dial and wanting to escape to a tropical beach to bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything is okay. While a tropical beach does sound good right about now that the calendar is about to turn to February, I’ve been around the block and around the world to know that  ignoring and escaping doesn’t change anything.

So instead of escaping, I’ve been challenging myself to sit with this question:

How can I best use my own skills, knowledge and resources at this moment to make a difference in the things that matter to me? 

As I pondered what I care about and what I can uniquely contribute, I dawned on me that exactly six years ago at a time when I felt similarly overwhelmed, I created a project called #GIVE10 to use my skills, social platforms and professional do-gooding networks together in an effort to rally people to care about causes in the world.

Give10 worked like this: Each day we’d find someone doing good to make the world better, vett this organization through a network of individuals working in these issues on the ground, and invest in their work with a small $10 donation. Then we’d share about this organization, why we support their work, and encourage others to check them out and contribute their own 10$ is they saw fit. It was pretty awesome.

While the #GIVE10 community still exists (and yes you can join it for free at that link right now!), I have to admit that I haven’t been paying much attention to it in awhile. But all that’s about to change. Starting February 1, I’m committed to rebooting #GIVE10. I’m doing it because the world needs us to be active participants in spreading good right now more than ever. And I need it so I can sleep at night–knowing I’m doing my small part with the skills and resources I have.
I’ll begin with looking at organizations that are working on issues that are heavy on my heart right now: refugees, access to healthcare, climate, and racial and religious reconciliation.

Now, I recognize that the issues that I care about may not necessarily be the issues that are making you count sheep–and that’s why #Give10 is a community movement, not just a one person show giving away a bunch of $10 bills. For Give10 to be successful it relies on others to contribute and share their knowledge and passion about the organizations they care about.
The aim is that #Give10 will once again inspire others to take personal action in the way that only they can

Want to join in with #Give10? Here’s 3 simple things you can do:

  1.  Follow #Give10 now. (we promise to add some positive giving energy to your Facebook feed)
  2.  If you see a cause that resonates with you join us by giving your own $10 (or more) and/or by sharing it with others (#give10 on Twitter)
  3. Tell us about the causes you care about and why. We’re always looking for new organizations doing good work to highlight and give to.

Most importantly, recognize that it takes all of us to make a difference. I challenge you to take time today to sit with this question yourself and then make your own plan to address the issues that are important to you:

How can I best use my own skills, knowledge and resources at this moment to make my voice heard in the things that matter to me? 

In love and goodness.

PS. February is the perfect month to start something new! What are you going to do?

People, Portraits and Prizes

PRIZES?  Yes! Keep reading.

Back when I lived in Sudan (and couldn’t run), I was working as a story writer and photographer.

The land in Sudan was as barren as barren could be. There wasn’t much to work with in the way of landscape photography. The roads were dirt, the homes constructed of sticks and mud, and the milky white sky blended straight into the desert most days without a hint of horizon.

The people on the other hand were the most colorful sight I’d ever seen, an apparition against the backdrop of the dusty land they called home. And it wasn’t just their rainbow colored robes. I’ve never met so many individuals who exuded such a deep gratitude and joy for the little that they did have. I was humbled.

I returned to the U.S. at the end of my contract, but I never forgot the faces. These weren’t the same images of war and destruction that were showing on the news. These were the faces of beauty and resilience. Yes, there was a war going on there, and there is still conflict in the region today. But a nation’s politics are not the same as its people. The smiles are as real as the statistics.

I showed these faces in a traveling exhibit called “Portraits of Darfur” for the years in Washington DC following my return. Prints were sold to benefit the villages where the images were taken.

I packed up the prints in 2009 when I moved on to a new season in Cambodia, but these faces I have never forgotten. They’ve hung on my wall for years now reminding me of how brightly joy shines in darkness.

Yesterday I dug through the boxes in my basement and pulled out these portraits. You see, I have a crazy idea. I love these photos so much that I’m going to give them away! Yes, PRIZES! Original prints, matted, and signed.

First, have a look at the photos and you’ll see what I mean. The smiles are just as amazing and inspiring as they were back when first saw these scenes through my camera’s eye.  Now skip to the bottom and find out how you can get one for your wall.

So, how do I get a PRIZE?

The prize game here works like a Kickstarter incentive. I still need lots of people to support me for my Hood to Coast run! If you make a donation to my crazy running efforts for Sudan, I’ll send you a prize.

  • $10 or more -> All my love and gratitude. And a Sudan photo card thank you (if you send me your address)
  • $50 or more -> Matted and signed 5×7 portrait of your choice with its story (finished size 8×10)
  • $100 or more -> Matted and signed 8×10 portrait of your choice with its story (finished size 11×14)
  • $300 or more -> Matted and signed 11×14 portrait of your choice with its story (finished size 16×20)
  • $500 or more -> Whatever you want. I’ll even send it to you framed.

(If you’ve already made a donation, don’t worry, you’re still prize eligible if you’d like one. And if you want to up your donation to reach a new prize tier, that works too, just let me know).

Give here at my fundraising page, and I’ll email you with instructions to claim your reward.

Who said that giving can’t be fun?

Running: For So Many Reasons

Yesterday I ran ten miles in Paris. I circled the arc, passed under the Eiffel tower, and wound my way along the Seine to Notre Dame. I dodged tourists, tripped on cobblestones, and spent a lot of time thinking as the French summer sun shone on each of my steps.

I often run in cities as an alternative to sightseeing. Over the pat 20 years, jogging tourism has become my wandering way of choice. It’s pretty amazing how much ground you can cover in a half marathon in Havana, and how well you’ll know Amsterdam for the rest of your life when you’ve studied its streets in anxious anticipation in training for your first marathon.

I’ve run in dozens of countries. But yesterday I wasn’t thinking about any of them. I wasn’t even thinking about how pretty Paris is on a sunny summer Sunday. I wandered the arrondissements with my mind focused on one unusual and far away place: Sudan.

I called Sudan home back in 2005 when it was one big country with a half dozen or more major conflicts. Living there was both amazing and oppressive. I’ve been a runner as long as I can remember, but Sudan was the single season I can remember where I never ran a single step.

Sudan wasn’t a running country. Sudan wasn’t safe. Anywhere we went, two blocks or two hours across the desert, we traveled in convoys of Land Rovers. Walking was forbidden. Running wasn’t even remotely an option.

Sudan is two countries now, but pretty much little else has changed. When 2 million refugees and displaced people become the status quo for a decade, the national news doesn’t really make the news anymore. And I sadly have to confess that as the years have passed, Sudan has mostly slipped my mind–until three weeks ago.

Hanging out at Halima’s House, West Darfur 2005

Worlds Collided

Nearly 15 years ago, way before I ever went to work in Sudan, I first heard rumors of an amazing relay race in Oregon called Hood to Coast. Teams of crazy people work together to run 199 miles from the top of Oregon’s Mt. Hood all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Since I’m crazy and I like amazing races, I added it to my invisible bucket list. I never imagined that I’d someday call Portland home, and I doubly never imagined that one day I’d get a call from a former colleague asking me to run this race to raise money and awareness for Sudan.

Sometimes you know things are meant to be. I immediately said yes.  I barely stopped to consider that I’d have to train to run at least 20 miles and that I’d have to work pretty hard to raise thousands of dollars.

As you’ve probably experienced in your own life–even when things are meant to be–there is no guarantee that they are going to be easy (or even fun). Most of the great things we accomplish will require the most blood, sweat and tears. When I lived in Sudan I knew I was in the right place, yet it was still the hardest place I’ve ever been posted. Running 20 miles on August 22-23 is going to be hard (and hopefully fun), but because it is for Sudan, I know it will be worth it.

Truth: most things that are worth it are hard. They will cost us something.

The cost to give access to clean water to one person in South Sudan is approximately $50. (In Paris that’s about what it costs to get 3 bottles of Evian in a restaurant).  My goal is to raise enough money to give clean water to 10 people for each of the 20 miles I’ll run.

What access to clean water in Sudan looks like

Would you join me? You can sponsor a mile and give clean water to 10 people ($500). You can sponsor water for one person ($50). And of course, if you’re budget is smaller than your heart, you can always #Give10.

(note: if you want to give an amount that isn’t listed in the donation choices, scroll to the bottom and select other. It shows $50 as a default but will let you designate any amount when you select the option).You can donate online here or message me if you have any questions. It’s all tax deductible and the money will go to World Vision- and organization I know well having worked with them for more than 7 years!

Just as it takes a team to complete a relay, it takes all of us working together to make a difference.

Where I’m Giving this #GivingTuesday

If you’re anything like me, you started this week overtired and over-stuffed. Perhaps you ate too much for Thanksgiving. Perhaps you overshopped Grey Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals. Or perhaps, like me, you skipped both Turkey and shopping, but still feel overwhelmed and overmarketed. And now there is the business of Giving Tuesday.

#GivingTuesday is great. The whole concept is to kick off the holiday season with the spirit of giving, instead of getting. Who can argue with that?

You care. You really do, but maybe you feel too tired to figure out giving right now.

If you’ve been reading around here very long you know I like giving. The idea of taking a day to focus on doing something that changes some small corner of the world excites me.

But to be honest, the holiday noise has already given me Facebook fatigue and email exhaustion. Every mailing list of every store I’ve ever shopped with online and every charity I’ve even given 10$ to is churning out an email every day telling me that there is a deal or an opportunity that I just can’t possibly miss, today.

So, just in case you’re like me and you want to give, but really can’t endure any more noise this week, I thought I’d give you three ideas for easy and impactful ways to give on #givingtuesday (or any other day of the year when you might be reading this). 

Mountain2Mountain. Earlier this year I was introduced to Mountain2Mountain, a small organization that invests in woman and girls in conflict zones because they recognize the power of women and girls as changemakers and catalysts for peace and prosperity. When I met the founder, Shannon Galpin in Colorado this year, she told me stories of women in Afghanistan and she gave me an amazing bracelet as a symbol of the “Combat Apathy” campaign that raises awareness for their work. Every time I wear this bracelet people ask about it and comment on its aesthetic of strength plus beauty- a perfect reflection of the women it helps. (The rockin’ bracelet -> http://combatapathy.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/combat-apathy-bracelets/)

Typhoon Haiyan Response The typhoon in the Philippines happened a few weeks ago. It isn’t the top story in the news anymore, but it’s going to take a long while to clean up and help people rebuild their lives. I’ve worked with World Vision in the Philippines in the past and have friends there on the ground right now. I know they’re in it for the long haul- to help families recover from this storm and to be better prepared for storms to come.

Give Forward: Christian Hannah’s Handicap Van Fund My friend Nate from Give Forward introduced me to this kid with a need we could easily meet in one day if we work together. Christian is a boy with cerebral palsy whose family is trying to raise money to get him a wheelchair van so he can be more active and go do more things. You can read his whole story at the link. His family needs $38,000 dollars to make this happen. Alone it’s nearly impossible for them, but together we could change his life this #givingtuesday.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

 PS. If none of these three excite you too much, check out Witness and The Hard Places Community they’re another two of my all time favorite groups making their corner of the world better.

Week #8: Playing for Change

Yesterday we covered the mushy topic of living love. While I’m not typically a mushy person in particular, I’m do get super excited about people who are living intentionally in order to help others.

When I started my #give10 search for people and projects who were changing the world, I accidentally surrounded myself by a whole lot of this kind of people. And you know what, they are contagious.

Today I want you to meet my friend Cecil, she’s one of these crazy infectious people who knows how to dream.

Cecil’s dreaming started decades ago as a young girl in a small village in the Philippines called Lamba. Though she doesn’t look old enough for the story she tells, Cecil remembers when her village school got their first and only piece of playground equipment decades ago- a rough cement slide. Today that same slide, worn slippery from bottoms of playing children, is still the centerpiece of the school yard.

Cecil has always dreamed about her school having swings and a proper playground so she’s finally taken the matter into her own hands to make that a reality for the school’s 600 current students. 

As part of our 52 weeks of #Give10 part 2, we asked Cecil about the Lamba Central School Playground Challenge and what she believes about the power of small givers.

1. What project accomplished are you most proud of this year?

I’m very proud we started this playground project and that the teachers in the school share my excitement. Little by little we are making this happen and we’ve been able to finish part of the playground by our goal in December!

2. What are you most excited about in the year to come. 

I am excited to see the rest of the facility get set-up this year. Even though we haven’t raised the funds to build the whole playground at one time, we are committed to build it piece by piece.

3. Last year #give10 supported the playground with $10. How do small donors make a difference in achieving your mission?
A small donation is big enough because it shows that there is someone out there who believes in our project, cares about our village school, and shares our dream of providing a better world for our children.

4. What is one thing you wish you could tell to the people who give to your cause?
I would tell people to follow their heart and give, because nothing is impossible when you give with love – it multiplies to others and spread the blessings. When they give, they open up an opportunity to one child – and this school has 600!

5. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?
People who don’t give might not have heard of the cause or have other things they are passionate about. But I believe, every person likes to give and feels good when they do. It is just a matter of time and chance.

6. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?
If people see that their donation made a difference, then they keep giving. If they know that other people’s lives got better, then they give again. Knowing that their donation is valued and used accordingly is very important.

7. Doing world changing work isn’t free. Can you explain the model that your project uses to cover its operating costs?
The funds raised are covering the actual construction of the playground facilities. The rest of the work has been happily undertaken by the school committee to be a “bayanihan” which means they will be working for free as a part of their donation for this project.

8. What do you think is the role of the individual who can only make a small donation?
Every person makes up a hundred and a thousand and a million. So one person plays a very important role. He/she completes the whole of the dream and final effort. No help or support on this project is small – every effort counts.

9. What project (other than your own) would you would want other donors to support?
The Ardee Smile Kidz, a small (and the only one) advocacy project in my city, that provides free therapy to children with cerebral palsy and educates parents on how to properly handle them so they grow loved and cared for.

10. How can people learn about and contribute to the Lamba Central School Project?

Twitter: @cblaguardia

Facebook: LambaCentralSchoolPlaygroundChallenge 


“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Spreading the Love of Life

This Valentines Day, per usual, I’m not expecting any flowers or chocolates. But I refuse to be a person who grumbles about being single today.

I’m not claiming that I love being a +0 all the time and I’d certainly not turn away a knight in shining armor who came knocking on my door. I’m just saying that despite the message that Valentines sends, I refuse to believe that love is all about couples and candy hearts. We all qualify for love today because – you guessed it – we’re alive.

The world tries to make us believe that if we aren’t getting any love, we don’t have any love to give. I call this rubbish. We sometimes forget how much love we’ve got because we’re too busy comparing our love to what someone else has got.

I read recently that the iphone often autocorrects the word “Love” to the word “Live”.  What a great reminder that actual love is more about the actions of our day to day life rather than just an emotion or sentiment of the moment.

If you’re in love with life and living it out the best you can, there is no promise that you wake up everyday to the smell of roses. It only means you recognize all that you have, despite how you feel, and you want to share that with others. Love is about the giving.

As part of #give10 I recently discovered More Love Letters, a project that exists for the sole purpose of sharing love through life. More Love Letters organizes strangers to send notes of love and encouragement to people who need a lift.  My favorite part about the More Love Letters story is that it wasn’t started by someone who had so much love they were looking for something to do with it. It was started by one girl who wrote 400 love letters to anonymous people as a way to live out her own love to others despite her own loneliness.

I liked this project because it reminded me that I don’t have to be getting lots of love to qualify to give some away.

Maybe you aren’t ready to love a complete stranger today, but love those around you by the way you share your life. Even tomorrow when Valentines is over.

Living out love will last longer than heart shaped chocolates.