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

LEGO awards Athentikos grant for La Limonada Art Camp

We are super excited to share this news with you: Athentikos received $4,000 from LEGO to support Art Camp in La Limonada the slum area featured in ‘Reparando.’ La Limonada is one of Latin America’s largest, most dangerous slums in Guatemala City, La Limonada.

The LEGO headquarters in Denmark awarded Athentikos a $4,000 grant in order to provide funding for an Art Camp at a partner school in La Limonada. Tita Evertz, founder and director of 2 schools in La Limonada, hosts an annual week long Art Camp providing children the opportunity to learn basic art skills and develop loving relationships. LEGO project manager for the World Robot Olympiad at the Denmark Headquarters, Claus Christensen, nominated Athentikos for LEGO employee grant after watching, ‘Reparando’ and learning about Art Camp in La Limonada. This grant awards minor funds to organizations recommended by employees.

“Everything I do has to be done with the children in mind. Our core values are centered around giving children the best of the best and the opportunity to use and develop their creative skills. The Art Camp does exactly that. So there was a great match between the cores values of LEGO and the ambitions of the Art Camp,” said Christensen.

The presentation of 10 LEGO employee grants was held on August 23 in Denmark. The LEGOs president, his family, CEO, Chairman of the Board and 100 guests attended the presentation. The employees that recommended the winning organizations gave a short presentation about the organization and cause for the grant. Below is our friend Claus accepting the award from the LEGOs president, Kjeld. (And Claus gave him a copy of ‘Reparando.’) We are humbly grateful to Claus for recommending the La Limonada Art Camp for this grant!

The Art Camp in La Limonada will be held this fall, October 31- November 5, 2011. Local and international staff, volunteers will be working with 100 children, ages 9 to 15 years old, at the camp providing skill and social development. Classes include drawing, dancing, yoga, media, drama and more. Contact Amelia Moore at ameliajmoore@athentikos.com if you are interested in traveling with the Athentikos team to assist in the Art Camp this fall.

“We believe in the therapy and healthiness that art can bring. This [Art Camp] gives them an opportunity to get to know something greater than their reduced boundaries and lets us mark their hearts with the love of God,” says Evertz.

In addition to the funding, LEGO will be donating 20 boxes of assorted LEGO bricks, enough LEGO bricks for 200 kids, to the schools in La Limonada! The bricks will be used at the schools in La Limonada, at Mi Casita and at Art Camp. Athentikos is excited about this partnership with LEGOs, Tita and Lemonade International.

Check out Athentikos’ new project: www.becomingfools.com. Athentikos is raising funds for their upcoming project, Becoming Fools, which will feature youth that live on the streets of Guatemala. Check out more info about how you can be involved in the project.

Walking Forward in Faith

I have used the phrase, “walking forward in faith” a few times recently to describe my current season of life. Its a phrase I have often heard. I might have even used it a few times myself.  But, I don’t think I have ever understood the depth and meaning of those simple words strung together in a sentence like I do today … and … I know someday I will look back on the level of understanding I currently have and say, “You didn’t have a clue”.

For context, here’s an abridged re-cap of the past three months of my life:

1. I lost my job.

2. My wife Amelia lost her job.

3. We decided to produce a new film called Becoming Fools, that focuses on street youth in Guatemala

4. Rather than look for a new job, we have spent all our time developing a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new film

Some people might think we were foolish to embark on this project, given the current variables of our life. Shouldn’t we seek a steady job? Why take this huge risk? Priority number one should be taking care of my family, right? Yes, but Amelia and I truly believe this story can make a difference in the lives of children living on the street. It is an incredible story and will gain a lot of attention when it is completed. It has the potential to ignite a movement.

Being the visionary type, I can see the final product in my mind … the poster, title sequence, story, closing credits and screening tour … I can see all of this and am driven to work hard to make the vision a reality. The walking forward in faith part comes into the equation with the fact that in order to accomplish all of the things I mentioned above, we need funding. Unless we reach our financial goal on Kickstarter by October 5, 2011, we will get nothing. This is another instance where people might call us foolish. We have a significant goal of $150,000. Some have asked,

“Why did you make your goal so high?”

My answer is the same every time: because I have run the numbers over and over, and that is the minimum we need to produce the story.

We didn’t flippantly establish our financial goal. We know it is a lot. And, we know very few projects raise this level of funding on Kickstarter. But, we also know that we are not in control. If God wants us to move forward and produce this film, He will bring the resources necessary to accomplish it. So, to bring this back around to walking forward in faith …

Two weeks into our campaign, we have raised over $20,000. This is a significant amount of funding – more than many Kickstarter campaigns raise. We are extremely thankful for everyone who has generously given. At the same time, with all things being equal, we are behind in the statistical numbers needed to make the campaign successful. It is easy to get discouraged at a time like this when the numbers are against you. But, life is more than a numbers game. They aren’t in control either.

I had an epiphany the other day as I described the current situation. Amelia and I truly ARE walking forward in faith in this Kickstarter campaign … AND … We ARE fools. We’re fools walking in faith with the knowledge that He who has called us to this knows what we do not … and He will carry us through.

We pray that God will move hearts and make this a successful fundraising campaign. We pray that this film will inspire audiences to respond to the needs of street kids around the world. And … we pray that God will give us the ability to continue to walk in faith with Him during this time of the in between.

Please join us in Becoming Fools. Make a pledge and ask others to join you.

 

Kickstarter Update – 02

Our partners are hard at work building relationships and serving needs. Fergie is a clown who volunteers with the organization At Risk No More. He spends time with the street kids every Thursday afternoon and takes kids interested in clowning to a local park or church building to train because he doesn’t have a facility. Fergie said that he dreams of someday having an official school to teach the kids. Several Street Kids are learning to juggle and and walk on stilts. Others are learning magic tricks and skits. On Sunday nights, Fergie brings a meal to the street kids and leads a small discussion group. Belbeth Castro (Italo’s sister) also comes to help with the events on Sunday nights. At Risk No More is currently recruiting and training other volunteers to work with the youth in a variety of ways.

On Monday & Wednesday mornings, Mojoca (another organization that works with children who live on the street) comes to offer the kids a breakfast as well as a time to talk, play some games with them, do drawings, and talk about cultural themes.

We are excited to begin documenting these activities in detail once we have raised our Kickstarter goal!

Please help us produce this story by making a pledge and sharing this project with your peers.

Thanks for joining us in Becoming Fools!