local nonprofit celebrates 40th anniversary of building hope, peace and justice abroad

Last month, local academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic partners joined forces with Cleveland-based International Partners in Mission (IPM) to organize a weeklong series of events in celebration of its 40th anniversary. IPM brought renowned national and international speakers to Cleveland to share their innovative ideas on topics ranging from international travel to human trafficking to women’s rights in Kenya with the Northeast Ohio public. IPM’s local partners supported its commemorative events by providing venues and/or speakers and panelists.

IPM is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in Cleveland since 2001, which works with women, children and youth across borders of faith, culture, and economic circumstances to build justice, peace, and hope. Since its founding in 1974, IPM has supported 306 community-based organizations to implement 348 Project Partner initiatives in more than 40 countries around the world.

Ohio City’s Saint Ignatius High School generously allowed IPM to use the Breen Center for the Performing arts as a venue for its keynote speaker, Rick Steves, author and PBS personality, who presented his latest book, Travel as a Political Act, on October 17th, to a crowd of over 350 people.

Steves advocates for smart, affordable, and perspective-expanding travel. He has created a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, which reflects on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives and can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. The presentation was followed by a discussion moderated by Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club.

Notre Dame College hosted Dorothy Nyong’o, director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and mother of Kenyan native Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her work in 12 Years a Slave, at its Regina Auditorium. Nyong’o addressed some of the current healthcare challenges facing girls and women in Kenya. She focused on providing an in-depth overview of the work of the Africa Cancer Foundation, striving to raise awareness on the prevention, management and treatment of cancer in Africa.

On October 16th, Ariel International Center, which has stunning views of Cleveland’s skyline and Lake Erie, provided the venue for IPM’s annual benefit, Namaste! One Night for One World. The event was a multicultural evening where guests had the opportunity to enjoy international cuisine, live music, wine, crafts from around the world and a silent auction. More than ten of IPM’s Project Partners from countries as diverse as Brazil, El Salvador, India, Kenya, and Nicaragua were present and shared information about socioeconomic and political issues in their countries as well as the solutions they're implementing to build justice, peace, and hope. Entertainment was provided by local artists, including jazz guitar legend Lee Bush, Gabriel’s Horns and others.

Other local partners provided IPM with speakers and panelists to some of the events. Joy Roller, the President of Global Cleveland, as well as Paul Neundorfer, the Co-Executive Director of the Refugee Response, were speakers in a panel entitled ‘Taking Cleveland International with Local Nonprofit Leaders,’ held on October 13 at the City Club of Cleveland. Eaton Corporation’s Barry Doggett, Hyland Software’s AJ Hyland, and RPM’s Randy McShepard, took part in a panel discussion on Cleveland businesses’ philanthropic engagement on October 14.

Other national participants who traveled to Cleveland to join IPM’s celebratory events included Jay Friedlander, founder of a sustainable business program at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Judith Ranger Smith, the Executive Director of Jimmy Buffett’s Singing for Change Foundation.

About ten IPM Project Partners from various countries were respondents in the luncheon and evening events, enriching the discussions through their field perspectives and innovative solutions to their community problems.

IPM fulfills its mission by supporting community-based projects around the world and by organizing Immersion Experiences to some of the countries where it works. In 2013 alone, IPM has provided financial assistance and facilitated technical training to 60 projects in 20 countries, thus helping 60,000 of the world’s most marginalized people, primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

IPM also offers Immersion Experiences, which are short-term travel opportunities to IPM-supported communities in various countries, including Brazil, El Salvador, India, and Nepal. The Immersions allow participants to live and learn among local residents and explore the socio-economic realities of IPM’s Project Partners, encouraging cross-cultural exchange and walking in solidarity with the communities. More than 1,600 people, including many residents of Greater Cleveland, have participated since the trips began in 2003.

To find out more about IPM and how you can be involved, please contact Raluca Besliu at: rbesliu@ipmconnect.org or at 216.932.4082.

Raluca Besliu is a staff member at IPM. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a master’s degree in refugee and forced migration studies. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations at Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, New York. She is originally from Romania. Ms. Besliu’s interests are in refugee and human rights issues, global politics, peace and post-conflict reconstruction.