At the Model United Nations and Best Giving Tuesday Yet!

Hello Echoers!

This past November had two highlights that we wanted to share! First, Matthew was chosen as keynote speaker for the Connect Model United Nations conference in Vancouver this year. Past speakers have included names like Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Matthew's talk brought together our work with Esther's Echo seen through the lens of Matthew's passion for space and space exploration; an orbital perspective where the world is seen from above and where we share common hopes and challenges. In Matthew's words "from space, and I use the word 'astronomical' literally here, our differences become astronomically tiny and our similarities astronomically large." The work of Esther's Echo was shared with over 300 high school delegates and teachers in attendance at the Model United Nations conference where Matthew encouraged them to think cooperatively rather than competitively about the challenges facing our world. 

Matthew presenting at the Connect MUN Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver

Matthew presenting at the Connect MUN Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver

We also wanted to celebrate Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday, on November 28th, marked the start of the Holiday Giving Season. This year, we tallied a record $2700! All in ONE day! Thank you all so very much for your generosity! This is the most successful Giving Tuesday campaign we've ever had. Esther is not quite in the clear yet, however. We've helped raise about half of what she needs to clear rent on the building that houses the Women in Action Development Project. Without the rest, Esther could be forced to take out expensive loans, reduce teachers pay, or increase school fees. We want to help avoid all that so are calling on you to help by donating or sharing our story with others. To those of you who have already supported Esther's work, our sincerest thanks! You are helping to keep over two hundred young women and children in school and daycare programs. We will continue to update you all as we head into the Holidays! All the best on Holiday preparations!

It's Giving Tuesday!

Hey Echoers!

Today is Giving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday is a movement around the world that promotes both donations and volunteering. It is considered the "Opening Day of the Giving Season" to rally for favourite causes. 

Many participating organizations, including Esther's Echo, are featured on the Giving Tuesday webpage to help rally support and share their goals. Ours is to help support Esther on her closing rent due date. Rent on Esther's building is about 10,000 dollars a year. Any amount we can shave off of that helps to put funding back into the development of their school, lowering student fees, raising teacher salaries, and preventing the school from going into debt. 

We are asking for your support. If everybody receiving this e-mail donated even just $50, we could help cover half of Esther's rent costs and take a great deal of pressure off her as we head toward the end of the year.  For those of you who have already donated, thank you so very much! You're helping keep hundreds of enrolled women and girls in school at Esther's Women in Action Development Project

You can find our profile page at the Giving Tuesday website by clicking this link

And you can donate using the button below!

Donate Today!

GivingTuesday, Action for Esther, and The Roddenberry Foundation

Dear Echoers,

Lots of exciting updates since our last message!

First off, today is GivingTuesday! GivingTuesday was created as a "Canadian movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Cyber Monday. The "Opening day of the giving season," it is a day where charities, companies, and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others." Esther's Echo has its own partner page on the GivingTuesday website. You can find a link to the page here: If you are thinking of giving today, please consider us!

A big thank you to those of you who already donated following our Thanksgiving e-mail. We raised just over 600USD for Esther's relocation fund. That brings the total outstanding balance needed to fully move the Women in Action Development Project to approximately 1400USD. My hope is that we can close this gap before the end of the year. Thankfully, we also have the support of Mulgrave Secondary School in West Vancouver again this coming December. I was contacted by Antony Wilson, Mulgrave's Global Education and Outreach Coordinator, letting me know that "Action for Esther" is on again this year. For the last 3 years, Mulgrave has hosted Action for Esther which not only brings in support for Esther's School but engages students about issues abroad. I have been fortunate enough to speak at the event in the past to share Esther's work in Freetown. Mulgrave's support will go a long way to helping us clear the remainder of Esther's payment to the new landlord. You can check out more about Action for Esther here:

Action4Esther Promo Graphic

Action4Esther Promo Graphic

Finally, I have one more item to share that I'm very excited about. In my other life, I am currently producing a film called Chasing Atlantis. The film began as a journey to see the last space shuttle launch in 2011 and grew into an exploration of why space has always captured my imagination and the imagination of those we've interviewed. Along the way, we met and interviewed Rod Roddenberry. Rod is the son of Gene Roddenberry who created the science fiction television show Star Trek. Rod is now the lead on the Roddenberry Foundation which endeavours to fund projects that further the values and ideals depicted in Star Trek like education, technology, and social justice. Recently, the Roddenberry Foundation ran a competition for the "Roddenberry Prize" which is seeking bold new initiatives to change the world. The prizes range from 150,000USD to 400,000USD. I've submitted an application for the prize on behalf of Esther's Echo. I've always loved blending my love of the stars with my love of the planet and its people. The more we study the stars, I believe we find that many more reasons to cherish our planet and the life that it cradles. My goal with the prize is twofold: First, build an entirely new facility for Esther so that we never have to worry about rent and landlords again. And secondly, to engage an entirely new potential donor community through the people we've met while working on Chasing Atlantis - space and science fiction fans. The video submission below, which was part of a larger written application, explains my vision for how this community could help support our work overseas. We will hear the results of our application in February! Also a big thanks to Cam Sylvester, founder of Capilano University's Global Stewardship program which sponsored Esther's visit to Canada in 2012, for his willingness to serve as a reference for our Roddenberry Prize application.

My sincerest thanks to you all again for your continued support as we help to tell a different story of Africa!