Sunday, July 6, 2008


This is a note from a friend of a friend. Please read and if you want to partner with them, you are encouraged.

Dearest Family and Friends,

Happy 4th! Warm greetings from Los Angeles. I'm writing to give you a bit of an update on my new life in LA, send some love, and share some exciting news.

So as not to hold you in suspense, I am NOT: pregnant, getting hitched, or running for president.

Thanks in advance for reading through...

To start:

I am loving Los Angeles, and loving my newfound passion for teaching. I'm working at a middle school in Watts, infamously called "Drew the Zoo," and currently one of the worst performing schools in the entire district. 94% of the eighth graders score far below basic in math skills and many are reading at 3rd and 4th grade levels. As you can imagine, my first year in the classroom was unbelievably challenging -- I've experienced growing pains like you wouldn't believe -- but I have come to love what I do, and to really appreciate the brave and charming, sometimes obnoxious, always hormonal, hilarious and incredibly resilient kids that I have the privilege of working with everyday (do you not remember middle school?). If you're ever in LA, come see us for a visit.

Next (sending love):

I love you all! Regardless of how awful I've been at staying in touch, I want you to know that I'm thinking of you today -- each one of you -- and grateful for your love and support. Let me know how you are!


The exciting news. Many of you know that my experiences in Africa several years ago completely changed the course of my life. I've been working as a representative for Hananasif Orphanage ( for the last few years, pouring any spare hours in my day into networking, planning, and fundraising, and also started up a non-profit organization to support this effort (Kujali Int'l) -- which many of you have generously supported when specific needs have come up. Because of general life responsibilities (work, studies, etc), it had always sadly been something I have had to split my time doing. It was frustrating that I couldn't offer more to the work that I feel so compelled to do.

Well, a recent turn of events: I have crossed paths with two remarkable women -- Claire Williams and Lara Vogel -- both talented, passionate, and driven ladies who have been doing similar work in orphanages in Kenya for the last few years (, with slightly different programming aims. It was as though we were living parallel lives, inspired by nearly identical experiences, and having incredibly complimentary visions for orphaned and vulnerable children in impoverished communities.

After a year of being in correspondence, and an opportunity to meet and discuss partnership possibilities earlier this spring, we came to the decision to merge organizations and visions. We are called IBECOME.

Our vision is simply this: to equip orphaned and vulnerable children with the tools to change the world. We work in close partnerships with orphanages to expand programming in the fields of health, education, and social entrepreneurship. On a global scale we are working to create a transformative change in the traditional orphanage model, launching "orphanage academies" -- rich centers of learning and training that will give vulnerable kids access to the resources, tools, and opportunities they deserve to break the cycle of poverty they were born into and to effect powerful change in their communities.

I feel just as passionately about these children as my own in the classroom.

Did you know?

In the United States, of the 13 million children living in poverty, statistically only 1 in 10 will graduate from college. I walk into a classroom everyday testifying to the fact that this has become a simple function of your zip code -- five numbers that determine your access to education and life opportunities.

The same goes for children living in impoverished communities around the world.

In 2002, UNICEF reported that there were 115 million primary-school-aged children out of school because of poverty and political conflict. Currently, 125 million children under the age of 5 are living without access to clean water. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are 12.1 millions AIDS orphans. Think of the crippling effect this has on the capacity of a community to overcome poverty? We are losing a generation of future leaders.

And so, this is where we have planted our roots, currently in partnership with 4 orphanages in East Africa.

I wouldn't have been ready before now to share this with you and call on you in this way. The vision has finally crystalized into something I feel so confident in, and IBECOME has a team of 9 individuals deeply devoted to this work, with several other part-time friends offering their skills and talents voluntarily.

So I want to leave you with this:

(1) Would you consider partnering with IBECOME in our efforts to effect grassroots change for children?

Become an IB partner through a monthly pledge:

*Change lives, secure futures, empower orphaned kids!
*Get frequent updates on our current initiatives and on-the-ground stories
*Get your name in quarterly raffles for gift certificates and donor surprises
*Get tax write-offs on your donations
*Does your business match charitable donations? let your gift give twice.

(2) Would you consider hosting a house party anywhere in the US this year, inviting close friends for appetizers/dinner and giving me the opportunity to share our work and our vision with your circle of friends or co-workers?

YES!, IBECOME is a tax-exempt, 501c3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-exempt.

So thank you for reading through.
If you are feeling inspired, this is how you can give today!

(1) Sign up for a one time gift or monthly pledge at our website:


(2) Write a check to:

c/o International Humanities Center
PO Box 923
Malibu, CA 90265

(3) Contact me for more information on house parties or other creative ways you can be a part of the vision.

All of my love and best wishes to each of you. Please keep in touch and I'd love to hear how you and yours are.

With gratitude,


Sydney Schaef
Founder and Director
equipping children to change the world

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