Thursday, July 12, 2012

day 30: we did it!

Finish line! I'm absolutely overjoyed to report to you that we (not me, it was all of us doing this together) did it--we raised enough money to meet my "dream" goal of $10,000 (20 scholarships) and then even surpass that to a grand total of $10,600 (21 scholarships). This means that we're in the process of rescuing 21 children who previously had no hope of ever going to school, who made a few extra rupees for their families by working in the trash heaps, searching for recyclable materials. 21 children coming from a life of despair, caught in hazardous barefoot child labor situations, to hope and smiles, to a future that suddenly looks bright.

About a week ago, I blogged that I had sent over the first part of the funds then raised to India. I also reported that our native team had begun the work of informing parents and guardians of children on the wait list (to get into The Children's Hope Center) that they would be receiving scholarships to enroll at the center and go to school! You can imagine the delight of both our native team members and these families as they were able to relish these joyous moments of both sharing and receiving such good news.

The Indian school year began a couple of weeks ago, but we're still in that period of time where latecomers can enroll and not be too far behind. And with our staff there to offer personal tutoring in our after-school program, they will integrate just fine. So these past several days, our native team has had the joy of receiving these new children brought in directly as a result of this campaign! And, if you stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr and/or Instagram (@peacegospel) channels, you'll get to see scenes of more children coming in over the days ahead!

Here are the photos of these newly enrolled kids earlier this week, receiving their first pairs of shoes, which are required at the schools we're partnered with where they will attend. You'll also see their new backpacks, and in many cases the clothes they are wearing are also provided by the center--when they first come in, if needed, we give them a new set of "home clothes" and a school uniform along with hygiene items, etc.--many have never owned a toothbrush and need to be taught how to use them.

For those of you already familiar with this program, you will notice some of our already existing students in these photos as well. They were very happy to meet and greet their new classmates! Just look at the JOY on the faces of these children! They before only dreamed of owning a pair of shoes, real shoes! (Click on any of the photos to enlarge).

So, we did it. I'm breathing a big sigh of relief that my 30 days, together with your amazing support, really made a difference and has now come to a close. I hope you've learned a few things from my experience here. I hope you've learned the following points:

1) We eat way more than we need and spend too much on food.
2) Simplification does not have to be drab. 
3) Together, we can make a difference if we overcome indifference.
4) Together, we can change the world. Alone, we grow apathetic and defeated.
5) While both are horrible, there's a difference between poverty and extreme poverty.
6) Extreme poverty is an immense problem that requires the effort of the entire world.
7) There's an exponential power in an encouraging word or a hand of support.

I hope that those of you who recently stumbled upon this blog entry and were not able to follow along would go back and read some of my thoughts in the other posts. Some of the posts I felt were the most meaningful were day 25: the power of encouragement, day 14: a different kind of poverty, day 13: sustainability, day 12: one dollar, one hope, one child, and day 10: why simplify?.

But we cannot rest for long. There's so much work to be done. Please visit to see what else we're doing to address issues of extreme poverty not only in India but in 5 other nations in Asia & Africa. Consider how you can join in and stay in the fight. Remember, it's together we can make a difference, if we overcome indifference. So, do something, no matter how small you think your contribution is, because, collectively, it all adds up and becomes an overwhelming and unstoppable movement of change

We at Peace Gospel are approaching these challenges from a perspective of empowerment and sustainability. We're empowering native teams to reach their own people, through equipping them with farmland and other small business enterprises. This way, your donations are multiplied and the native teams feel that important sense of ownership in their work. In other words, it's not just handouts!

Some personal notes as I cross the finish line:

If you want to try this, please contact me at kirby {at} PeaceGospel {dot} org. It's not for everyone. If you enjoy cooking and are disciplined with rationing, you can do this. But please contact me first. I've done this three times now and have learned the very hard way what not to do, and have come up with several tips on how to better endure it. 

My feet are doing fine, again, it was a very foreign experience, my feet are calloused and dirty, but I never really found myself walking in conditions anywhere near to what my friends in the slums have to deal with. Because of my bare feet, there were several opportunities to share with people about what I was trying to do. It definitely turned some heads. Today I found this sign... "no bare feet allowed" ... funny, I've been in this store countless times and never before noticed it.

I lost 11 pounds (5 kgs).  It's a testimony to the fact that by eating less and eating a simplified diet, our bodies return to a more natural weight. You can see in my photos of the food, it's not bad-looking food, it's just not an extravagant amount of variety, and not a lot of sheer quantity. I was not overweight, well, maybe a touch, but definitely had a few spare pounds to shed. By drinking more water than I usually would, I also felt much "cleaner" through the 30 days, and probably did cleanse my body of a lot of the unknown, silent toxins we pollute ourselves with in our excessive Western diet.

So, on to the final 3 meals of the 90 I've prepared over the past 30 days. What a marathon of meal preparation! I was left with 3 corn tortillas, a few scoops of raisins, about one cup of oats, and surprisingly, about two cups of uncooked brown rice. But everything else is gone.

Breakfast. This was one of my favorite meals of the 30 days, I think! A very simple meal but extremely satisfying and tasty! The usual oatmeal with raisins, seasoned with what else but the savory and versatile season-all. Two breakfast taquitos composed of one scrambled egg, re-fried beans and brown rice wrapped in lightly canola-oil basted corn tortillas, seasoned and baked at 500F/260C for 8 minutes. It's amazing to me what you can do with taquitos and tostadas.

Lunch. A simple variation of fried rice with carrots and cabbage, this time just threw on a plain omelette on top. It's little tricks like this that keep your brain fooled into thinking your're getting variety when in fact it's just the same ingredients rearranged. Nutritionists will tell you that one of the keys to healthy eating is variety. So that's why it's so important to strive for these little variations if you're going to try the 30 day challenge.

Celebratory Day 30 Dinner. I went all out. I used up the last portion of the final potato, the remainder of the pasta sauce, and had enough tortillas to make three taquitos! It felt like a lot of food! So this was the potato, ramen and penne pasta combo, plus a taquito variation including my very last ration of beans, a bit of brown rice and... chopped carrots for a nice twist on consistency! It was a really nice final meal! Prepared with love...

Thank you. Thank you for following along. Thank you for being a voice for those who have no voice. Thank you for giving even when you may have thought you can't afford to give and did it anyway. Thank you for overcoming your indifference to explore my thoughts and my challenges to your thinking. Thank you for deciding to join in on the movement to overcome indifference, so that together we might make a real difference. Thank you.

Take Action! Yes, the challenge is over, but let's not stop here!

1) Please consider giving toward scholarships for children of the Indian slums. There will always be a need for this. 

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to Peace Gospel. If you're in the UK, use this link.

3) Awareness is half the battle. Stay aware and join in on the conversation by sharing our news and photos with your friends. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr and on Instagram (@peacegospel)!


  1. That is so awesome, Kirby! I'm so happy for these kids and for you too. And the photos are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them...they say it all. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful support and encouragement along the way!

  2. I just stumbled upon your blog. Thank you for posting. I can't wait to read about your journey. Thank you for this encouragement to those of us who desire to be a light in this dark world.

    1. Angie, what a delight to receive your note. Thank you for your very encouraging words!