This Sunday, June 16th, those of us in the United States, and folks in some 25 other countries around the world, will celebrate Father’s Day. Having spent the first five years of my own fatherhood in a country that commemorates fathers on March 19—the feast day of Saint Joseph—I’ve always been more than a little conflicted about the more commercial U.S. Holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad. You could even argue he’s my best male friend! But something about how these Hallmark card holidays came into being in North America continues to rub me wrong.
Then again, my life and my life with IPM is a testimony to the importance of loving fathers. From colleagues around the world with whom I share fatherhood, to the men who support and nurture so many of our women-led Project Partners, there can be no denying the impact a good dad can have on the life of their family and community.
In Nicaragua, where I just spent a powerful week that I’ll be writing more about soon, IPM’s longtime logistics coordinator Martin Castro exemplifies the best a dad can be. A tireless worker, faithful spouse, and dad to not only his own three children but the myriad international students who have learned so much while staying in his family home: Martin is just one example of the kind of dad we need more of and whom I am humbled to call a friend.
In India, our Regional Fellow Himmat Chauhan, grew up with the huge loss of a father who was murdered by the local elite. Himmat’s father, Pochabai, was in the midst of organizing the Dalit community of Golana when he was targeted for assassination. Himmat continues to stand on the powerful shoulders of his father and mother as he leads the Foundation named for his father—which directly impacts the lives of tens of thousands of annually while ensuring environmental justice in a part of India long regarded as unworthy of government support. Himmat was IPM’s first Regional Fellow, working in tandem with IPM’s Regional Director Mahesh Upadhyaya (another remarkable dad by the way!), and his fatherhood is a huge part of all he does.
In IPM’s hometown of Cleveland, Doug Horner (center of photo with Patrick, Jesse, and Jared) leads a local Congregation that has served as a vital partner for IPM for the past decade. The 2012 Nairobi photograph is from one of the IPM Scholarship Immersion Experiences IPM has coordinated with Doug through the generosity of the Dudley P. & Barbara K. Sheffler Foundation—the remarkable Family Foundation behind IPM’s current 45th Anniversary Match Campaign. The father of two remarkable young women and the “fill-in” dad for countless Cleveland kids, Doug embodies the same spirit that animated IPM’s founding fathers, Jim Mayer and Paul Strege, and—as I mentioned when we presented IPM’s David N. Westcott award to Doug last year—he’s my “partner in mission” in much the same way Paul and Jim were for one another.
While IPM works primarily with women and girls, we know that good dads continue to make a real impact of the work of each of our Project Partners. Good dads like Martin, Himmat, Mahesh, Doug, Dudley, David, Jesse, Patrick, and Jared often mean the very real difference in the life of a child: if s/he will have access to schooling, adequate health care, and become a responsible parent as well. It’s part of what makes the IPM Family so unique that the list of dads I could mention could go on for days!
Best wishes to all the IPM fathers celebrating with their families and communities this weekend. May you know that the sacrifices you make are invaluable and that the world is a little better each day thanks to all you do.