Happy Birthday, Micah!

(Campaign update: $46,525 pledged // 237 Backers // 2,744 Likes // 13 Days Remaining with $103,475 to raise)

I’d like to introduce to to someone very special. He is sort of the catalyst behind both Reparando and Becoming Fools and he doesn’t even know it … yet.

His name is Micah. He isn’t a homeless youth – but he could have been. He could have walked the streets looking for food. He could have become addicted to sniffing glue as a way to cloud his mind and forget the loneliness. He could have been recruited by a gang and ended up in prison … or even killed in some violent act. He could have … but he didn’t. The author of Micah’s story had something else in mind.

Micah was born to a mother in Guatemala who sadly could not keep him. She knew her son was special. She loved him. In fact, she loved him enough to realize that she couldn’t care for him like he needed. So, she made the decision to give Micah up for adoption. She didn’t know that when she made this decision that she would be part of a much larger story.

In a land far away, a couple was immersed in their personal struggle of infertility. When doctors “couldn’t make it happen through the miracle of medicine”, the couple almost gave up hope that they would have a child of their own. It was difficult for them to understand why God had not allowed them to experience the joy that children bring. But the author wasn’t finished with their story either.

These two broken stories were woven together into a beautiful tapestry of grace. A child was given a family and a family was given the gift of a child. I never grow tired of recounting this beautiful story … because it is ours.

Micah was born six years ago today in Guatemala. We weren’t present at his birth and we didn’t know then, just how special this day would become. We didn’t know the joy that would well up in our life and overflow into others. We didn’t know that we would fall in love with a child and a country. We didn’t know that we would invest years into producing documentaries to try to help this country that gave us the gift of our son. We didn’t know … but now we do … and we are responding. God works in mysterious ways. In the beginning, our story was all about us. We wanted a child. We didn’t realize that our story wasn’t our story at all. It never belonged only to us.

Today as Micah turns six and we celebrate his life, I am reminded that our story is still not our’s alone. When I look into Micah’s big brown eyes and am warmed by his infectious smile and laughter, I can’t even imagine that my precious son could have been walking the streets in Guatemala all alone. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that there are children Micah’s age who are celebrating their birthday by digging in the trash to look for something to eat. Yet, I have met these children. This is real.

… But the author is not finished with their story … there is HOPE.

We are not producing Becoming Fools to earn grace. We are producing Becoming Fools in response to the grace we have been given. Micah, Amelia and I still have scars, but our scars are beautiful because we share them together in OUR STORY.

There are so many other “Micah’s” who need help. In honor of my son’s birthday, I ask you to give the gift that will remind these children that their story isn’t finished.

Time is running out. Please make a pledge today and help us tell this story.

Partnership Organization: At Risk No More

(Campaign update: $45,575 pledged // 237 Backers // 2,744 Likes // 14 Days Remaining with $104,425 to raise)

At Athentikos, we expose needs through inspiring stories. Becoming Fools is an inspiring story. Part of our model is to use our web site to connect audiences to organizations responding to specific issues .. in this case the issue of homeless youth.

We are partnering with several organizations responding to the issue of homeless youth to seek their expert advice. Additionally, Athentikos will direct people towards these organizations to facilitate response to the story. One such organization is At Risk No More.

At Risk No More (ARNM) is committed to bring God’s love and justice to children at risk by providing a community filled with unconditional love and forgiveness. ARNM seeks to create ways for these desperate children to receive healing and wholeness through Rescue, Refuge, and Released based ministry initiatives. ARNM seeks to develop partnerships with churches and other organizations in order to effectively minister to these desperate children. Currently ARNM assists to facilitate placement of youth living on the streets into rehab centers in Guatemala… and so much more!

We have established a deep relationship with the Executive Directors, Bill & Donna Tepstra and are inspired by their hearts and passion for at risk children. Last November, the Athentikos team visited the street youth in Guatemala City with Bill & Donna. We have spent a lot of time with them in their home of western Michigan.

Thank you to Bill & Donna & the ARNM team for sharing in this vision, for your example of serving others and for your support and encouragement.

I Can’t Sleep

Today it stuck me – we have two weeks left to raise our Kickstarter goal so we can tell this story. This reality keeps me up at night.

I started thinking back to try to remember why and how we got to this point today. I thought through the last several months and all of the work we have put into this campaign since May. I thought back further to the story pre-production which began in January. I thought back further yet to the joy we experienced when we shared Reparando in Guatemala City last November … and the pain we shared when we met these kids who live in the streets.

To be honest, I am tired. I’m really, really tired … physically and emotionally. I think back at all of the sleepless nights I have had over the past year and wonder if I truly am a fool for believing in this story? Sometimes, my head answers this rhetorical question with a resounding, “YES, you are a fool. Give up. You can’t do this!” And … for a moment, I want to throw in the towel and call it quits. But then I remember WHY we want to tell this story – because it is MORE than just a story.

I want to tell this story because even though I CAN’T sleep, I HAVE A BED TO SLEEP IN. Tonight, thousands of children will fall asleep on the pavement in some dark alley. Tonight, thousands of children will cling to the underbelly of an overpass to stay out of the rain. Tonight, thousands of children will sniff glue to try to forget the violence plaguing their hearts and the rumbling of their empty stomachs.

Tonight, while this is happening, I choose to ignore the doubt. I choose to continue to run this race strong to the end and not give up hope that this story CAN be told. Over 2600 people have liked our project. If all of these people backed Becoming Fools, we would be probably be at our goal.

Tonight, I pray that you will make a pledge and choose to join us in Becoming Fools. If you already have backed this project, thank you! Please continue to tell people why this is more than a story.

We are just under 30% with 15 days left. Make a pledge today.

Bonus Incentives!

That’s right, we only have three more weeks until our campaign is over on October 5. To celebrate the interest and momentum in the campaign, we are offering some very special gifts FOR FREE.

Over 2300 people have “Liked” our Becoming Fools Kickstarter Project page. We really appreciate the encouragement and wish we could produce a film with “Likes”, but unfortunately, we can’t. We need our “Likers” to become “Backers” in order to tell this story.

To encourage “Likers” to become “Backers”, we are adding some new bonus incentives as a way to say thank you. Why wait? Back Becoming Fools today!

BONUS INCENTIVES:

1. DOWNLOAD A FREE SONG TODAY
EVERY PLEDGE will receive a FREE SONG DOWNLOAD from our dear friend AMY STROUP (www.amystroup.com). Pledges start at $1 and you get the song TODAY!

2. ALL PLEDGES OVER $25 GET THE FILM SOUNDTRACK FOR FREEAs an added bonus on top of the other incentives, all pledges over $25 will receive the film soundtrack! So, for $25 you get the film AND the soundtrack … and you help tell a story that will make a difference in the lives of street kids! We are planning some incredible music for this film and look forward to sharing it with you.

GET YOUR FREE SONG NOWWe are excited to partner with Amy Stroup to bring you this offer. Here is how to receive your FREE SONG:

1) Back the Becoming Fools Kickstarter Project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/306542054/becoming-fools-a-documentary (Check out the project info and then click on the green “BACK THIS PROJECT” on the right). Remember to include your city to enter the World Premiere Contest.

2) Post the following status on Facebook and/or Twitter:

“GET A FREE SONG from Amy Stroup & support kids living on the streets of Guatemala at http://tinyurl.com/3uwsmbv

3) We’ll send you a link to download your FREE SONG!

4) Enjoy! Keep talking about this project and it’s impact to bring hope to thousands of children living on the streets.(All current backers, just do steps #2-#4)

ABOUT AMY STROUP
Singer / songwriter Amy Stroup joined Athentikos on our first production trip to Guatemala in 2009 to help with Reparando. Amy met Italo during this trip and was moved by his vision for the forgotten children growing up on the streets of Guatemala. She responded with her own talents and wrote “Orphan Clothes” with Mary Hooper.

Amy Stroup approaches her art with passion. Over the past 18 months, her songs have been featured in over 20 hit TV shows including “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Brothers & Sisters,” “Private Practice,” “One Tree Hill”, “Army Wives” and “Pretty Little Liars.”. Her new CD — “The Other Side of Love Sessions,” released in stores on June 28 — compiles the best songs from her previous digital-only EPs and bathes them in a new light. “All these songs,” Amy says, “explore different types of love. When you actually live through something real, you realize there are a lot of aspects of love. There’s a lot of pain. It takes courage. There’s something you have to fight for.”

Amy is currently on tour with TEN OUT OF TENN (http://www.10outoftenn.com).

Sharing Hope – Willy & Mefi

In this heartwarming video update filmed last week in Guatemala, “Willy the Magician” and “Mefi the Juggler”, two boys who grew up on the streets of Guatemala City show us their talents and share some of their hope for the future. There are thousands of kids like this who need help.

We cried when we watched this video and it makes us want to tell this story even more. We hope it produces the same response in you.

As of today we have 180 backers and are 25% of the way to our goal. We need your help to hit our goal before October 5, 2011 in order to produce this story.

If you like this project, but haven’t backed it, will you join us in Becoming Fools?

 

BECOMING FOOLS – WORLD PREMIERE CONTEST

YOU get to decide where we host the WORLD PREMIERE!

The city that raises the most financial support for the Becoming Fools Kickstarter Campaign will host the world premiere of the film FOR FREE*!

Here’s how it works:

1. Back Becoming Fools on Kickstarter before Oct 5, 2011.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/306542054/becoming-fools-a-documentary

2. Include the nearest major city in your profile when you back the project.
(If you have already backed the Becoming Fools Kickstarter Project, it is easy to add the city to your profile.)

3. Ask family, friends and co-workers in your area to do the same.
Work together and WIN! Pledges start at $1. All pledges above $25 receive incentives. Funds are securely transferred through Amazon Payments and NO FUNDS ARE TRANSFERRED UNLESS WE RAISE OUR GOAL. ALL PLEDGES ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.

It is that simple!

The city that raises the most money for the Becoming Fools Kickstarter project wins! We’ll bring the completed film to your city for the world premiere – FOR FREE! Ask your church, small group and even your barber to join in. Together we can raise the funds needed to tell this story and help these street kids!

Which city will join us in Becoming Fools?

*Becoming Fools World Premiere Contest prize winner depends on a successful Becoming Fools Kickstarter Campaign – raising a total of at least $150,000 by Oct. 5, 2011.

More than a film – Becoming Fools for Gabriela

Joel Van Dyke, our friend and mission partner in Guatemala sent us this update about a recent breakfast with organizations who serve the needs of street youth. This update does an incredible job of bridging Reparando and Becoming Fools and also explains how this project is so much more than a film.

Update From Joel[divider style=”thin”]

Yesterday morning I had a profound experience that I feel compelled to share with you all. I had breakfast with 14 year-old Gabriela. The profound part of the experience was that I did not even know I was having breakfast with her until after the breakfast was finished. As I stood up to speak, I saw her …. I forgot where I was for a minute and immediately ran over to give her a huge hug suddenly realizing that I needed to hold my composure in order to make the “presentation” I had been asked to give.

I was invited to cast the vision for a street youth focused conference to a group of ministry leaders, pastors and organizational executives who have begun to meet together once a month over breakfast in Guatemala City. Fourteen different churches, organizations and para-church ministries all lead by Guatemalan’s have been meeting to see what they can do collaboratively for the street kids of Guatemala that they have not been able to achieve on their own. Having never met each prior to these gatherings, they are now uniting, praying together, meeting at their respective ministry sites and making collaborative plans on how to serve and work together. The vision of the Becoming Fools film project has seeded this movement towards synergistic collaboration and the film will tell their collective story to mobilize resources for their united and expanding vision. A vision that is turning them into “fools” for children like Gabriela.

So who is Gabriela and what is it about her story that compels me to want to take the time to write this? It is, actually, deeply personal!!

My family and I first met Gabriela when she was attending Tita Evertsz’ school in La Limonada. We felt very drawn to her and her little sister Elena. They came over to our home for several weekend sleep over’s to have play-time with our kids and our neighbors.

After several years, however, Gabriela went the way of the streets leaving a very dysfunctional and abusive home environment. We lost complete contact with her until a year ago when Tita called to tell us that she had been brutally beaten and then left to die in the “river” (“sewer water”) of La Limonada. We were heartbroken for the little girl that we had played with in our home on several occasions. Miraculously, she survived the attack and was brought to a Guatemala City hospital where she eventually recovered from her near death encounter.

When released from the hospital, Gabriela went back to the streets and eventually turned up in the group of street kids at the “tanque”, where Italo poured out his life. From there she was loved and nurtured enough to desire changes in her life and eventually accepted an invitation to move off of the streets and into Shorty’s rehabilitation program, convincing her family to move in with her. Yesterday, she was having breakfast with us because Italo’s sister Velvet had promised to bring her to a medical clinic immediately after the meeting. I had no idea she would be there but like the metaphor of the repaired doll in Reparando that works as a tapestry of God’s scandalous grace, her presence yesterday to me had profound significance.

It seems to me that many people who have been exposed to and been asked to contribute to the Becoming Fools campaign have chosen not to pledge support because they are not interested in pledging their hard earned money simply to help produce a film. However, I am writing from the depth of my heart to share with you that this campaign represents SO MUCH more than just the production of a film. It is the vehicle from which the prophetic voice of thousands of Gabriela’s will be heard by the church in Guatemala and by tens of thousands of people around the world. It is the vehicle through which the collective dreams and aspirations of 14 plus Guatemalan lead organizations who are serving in the spirit of Italo Castro’s legacy can be mobilized into tangible expressions of love on the streets of this great city.

The breakfast yesterday morning and the almost haunting image of Gabriela’s guarded but smiling face looking back at me has increased my resolve to invest in this campaign. It is the resolve to help raise the funds needed so that this incredible story can be told and a movement unleashed. I am praying with all of my heart that hundreds of you reading this will join my family and I in prayer and pledged support for this incredibly important vision that has so much potential to touch thousands and thousands of lives.

Will you please join us in Becoming Fools for Gabriela and the thousands like her on the streets of Guatemala City. This is our chance to unite together to be part of the redemption of their stories for the glory of our Almighty God whose heart is filled with love for us…. and them!!

Joel Van Dyke

Clowns – Standing in the Gap Between Tragedy and Comedy

You can listen to this update from Director Scott Moore by clicking the icon below.

Listen to this update

Love them or hate them, most people have an emotional memory of clowns. Clowns are like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, except they’re more colorful …. and more real.

Clowns are important to the story of Becoming Fools for several reasons. The most obvious reason is the fact that Italo was a clown – and not just a clown, but a professional clown. I didn’t understand it when I first heard his story.

“He’s a professional what? A clown? How is that possible? Does he work at a circus?”

I didn’t understand. But I get it now. Clowns are a big deal in Latin America. They’re much more than an icon of childhood. They are a part of the culture. And it isn’t just because Latin Americans love to celebrate.

Clowns represent both comedy and tragedy. Their colorful costumes and exaggerated expressions enable them to add whimsical overtones to some otherwise very tragic stories. I didn’t dial into this when I was a kid. I only saw the laughter. But now it makes sense. Think about it. Clowns are funny because they CAN’T do things or they DON’T HAVE things. Clowns are funny BECAUSE THEY FAIL. If it weren’t for the makeup and outrageous costumes, we’d all be crying for them.

When I think of Guatemala’s tragic history, clowns make perfect sense. Guatemalans have been oppressed for centuries by Spaniard conquerers, Cold War dictators and now drug cartels and gang warfare. In 2011, poverty in Guatemala increased to 55 percent. This IS tragic in a grand scale. But much like the clowns, Guatemala’s tragedy is masked by its colorful costume – the flowers … on the trees … on the mountain … under the blue sky and golden sun. Sometimes it is hard to believe that in the midst of such beautiful color, people are hungry.

And if Guatemala has had a tragic story, then these children who live on the street have had the most tragic story of all. For one reason or another, they fled the security of home because it was not secure. They fled the comfort of home because it was not comfortable. They fled the peace of home because there was no peace. And now, they huddle together on the streets in a makeshift family that sadly resembles the disfunction they tried so hard to run away from.

We originally wanted to include the clown theme in this story because Italo was a clown. He began to teach kids living on the street to clown so they could have a job. But now I realize that Italo was teaching these kids to clown for a deeper reason. Clowning is a performance art. It’s experiential. It’s theatre. And … it’s medicinal. Clowning can help these kids process their tragic stories and better understand their wounds. Clowning can also empower these kids to begin to communicate their stories non-verbally – in a way that crosses culture and language – so that we the audience can begin to understand their needs and respond. Both the clown and the audience have the opportunity to heal.

Clowning captivates a community in the gap between tragedy and comedy. We have an opportunity to look beyond the colorful costumes and connect to people in need. Call me a fool, but I think this is what we are supposed to do.

Will you join us?

 

The 'Becoming Fools' Campaign Still Needs You

Thank you for all you’ve done so far to tell your friends and family about our campaign for our new film ‘Becoming Fools’ on Kickstarter.com. 129 people have said they want to help street kids in Guatemala by pledging your support, raising over $25,000! We are honored and blessed by this generosity.

Help us reach $45,000 by Monday, September 5.
Make your tax-deductible pledge today.

This would put us just over 30%, which is a very important target to meet because it will put us in good standing with Kickstarter, and may provide more opportunities for promotion through them.

For those who haven’t pledged, is anything holding you back from pledging your support for the film?

Here are some answers to questions we have received.

What is ‘Becoming Fools’ about?

Becoming Fools’ portrays the vision of Italo, a professional clown, Italo, who invested in the lives of kids living in the streets. We want to honor Italo’s life by telling this beautiful story of struggle and hope.

What the problem?

In Guatemala, a child is abandoned every 4 days. 10 children are violently killed every week. Over 6000 children live in the streets. This is not just a Guatemalan problem. There are over a million children on the street worldwide.

Why are they doing it?

We’re passionate about this issue because the problem of street children exists everywhere. We’ve seen the impact a film can make with the success of our previous film, ‘Reparando’, and want to start a movement through this film that will impact thousands.

Why does it cost so much?

There’s a lot that goes into making a film including cost of equipment, travel, time, production, translation, editing, music, packaging and distribution. While we are paying some staff in the U.S. and Guatemala, we do rely on volunteers for a good portion of the work to be done.

How do they pay for it?

We rely on friends and organizations for support. A lot of labor is donated to make this film, reducing the costs. We are using a website called Kickstarter as a way to take pledges from people like you.

What happens if they don’t receive enough pledges?

This project will only be funded if at least $150,000 is pledged by Wednesday Oct 5, 3:16pm EDT. If the campaign doesn’t receive enough pledges, no money will be transferred and the project will not move forward.

How can I help?

We can only do this with your help in giving a tax-deductible donation and promoting the campaign. Pledge at least $25 to Becoming Fools on ourKickstarter page. Tell 4 friends to do the same and have them find 4 more friends who do the same. Promote it on Facebook and Twitter. Talk to friends, churches and organizations.

If I donate, when does the money get charged to my account?

Pledges to our campaign on Kickstarter are charged to your account AFTER the money is raised, after October 5. If all the funds are not raised, no money is transferred from your account at all.

 Make a pledge

We are excited (and yes a little nervous) to step out in faith to devote our time and lives to this film. This story has the potential to make a difference in the lives of street kids in Guatemala and around the world.

Will you join us?
-Scott & Amelia Moore

The ‘Becoming Fools’ Campaign Still Needs You

Thank you for all you’ve done so far to tell your friends and family about our campaign for our new film ‘Becoming Fools’ on Kickstarter.com. 129 people have said they want to help street kids in Guatemala by pledging your support, raising over $25,000! We are honored and blessed by this generosity.

Help us reach $45,000 by Monday, September 5.
Make your tax-deductible pledge today.

This would put us just over 30%, which is a very important target to meet because it will put us in good standing with Kickstarter, and may provide more opportunities for promotion through them.

For those who haven’t pledged, is anything holding you back from pledging your support for the film?

Here are some answers to questions we have received.

What is ‘Becoming Fools’ about?

Becoming Fools’ portrays the vision of Italo, a professional clown, Italo, who invested in the lives of kids living in the streets. We want to honor Italo’s life by telling this beautiful story of struggle and hope.

What the problem?

In Guatemala, a child is abandoned every 4 days. 10 children are violently killed every week. Over 6000 children live in the streets. This is not just a Guatemalan problem. There are over a million children on the street worldwide.

Why are they doing it?

We’re passionate about this issue because the problem of street children exists everywhere. We’ve seen the impact a film can make with the success of our previous film, ‘Reparando’, and want to start a movement through this film that will impact thousands.

Why does it cost so much?

There’s a lot that goes into making a film including cost of equipment, travel, time, production, translation, editing, music, packaging and distribution. While we are paying some staff in the U.S. and Guatemala, we do rely on volunteers for a good portion of the work to be done.

How do they pay for it?

We rely on friends and organizations for support. A lot of labor is donated to make this film, reducing the costs. We are using a website called Kickstarter as a way to take pledges from people like you.

What happens if they don’t receive enough pledges?

This project will only be funded if at least $150,000 is pledged by Wednesday Oct 5, 3:16pm EDT. If the campaign doesn’t receive enough pledges, no money will be transferred and the project will not move forward.

How can I help?

We can only do this with your help in giving a tax-deductible donation and promoting the campaign. Pledge at least $25 to Becoming Fools on ourKickstarter page. Tell 4 friends to do the same and have them find 4 more friends who do the same. Promote it on Facebook and Twitter. Talk to friends, churches and organizations.

If I donate, when does the money get charged to my account?

Pledges to our campaign on Kickstarter are charged to your account AFTER the money is raised, after October 5. If all the funds are not raised, no money is transferred from your account at all.

 Make a pledge

We are excited (and yes a little nervous) to step out in faith to devote our time and lives to this film. This story has the potential to make a difference in the lives of street kids in Guatemala and around the world.

Will you join us?
-Scott & Amelia Moore