Robin Solomon is an inspiration, taking the Jewish philosophy of “tikkun olum” – to make a difference in your own corner of the world – very seriously. Robin volunteers in her own community working on projects sponsored by The Giving Circle, Saratoga Soroptomists, mentoring women through the auspices of Wellspring and serving others through programs offered by Temple Sinai…but her corner of the world now includes remote villages in Uganda. This summer, Robin once again traveled back to Africa to change the world. “I landed in Uganda because of The Giving Circle,” Robin commented. “The Giving Circle, founded by Mark Bertrand, is an organization that was formed after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, and focused on alleviating the suffering for communities in the south by helping them rebuild. The Giving Circle brings together people who feel fulfilled by selfless acts of kindness and compassion.”
Besides post-disaster work done in the United States and local assistance to Shelters of Saratoga and Code Blue, the group expanded its scope and travels overseas to help struggling children . In Bugembe, Uganda, the Koi Koi House is more than an orphanage. The house is a home to 15 of our sons and daughters. The Giving Circle partnered with a once struggling primary school and now, the Busoga Jr School provides education for children of this very poor district, including hard of hearing and handicapped children who otherwise would not receive an education. In 2011, The Giving Circle was asked by the Ugandan Government to visit Uganda’s poorest village, Kagoma Gate Village, where the village and its people are referred to as “the forgotten people.” Since that visit, The Giving Circle has made Kagoma Gate home and its village part of The Giving Circle family. Today, while Kagoma Gate is profoundly poor, the community is no longer Uganda poo r est village and no longer forgotten. “The work is kid focused and the primary concern is to help the Uganda villages be self-sustaining,” Robin explained. “All projects can be, and are, continued by the local residents.” In the beginning, there was no running water, no school, no access to food or sanitation, and the infant mortality rate was 80%. “In 2011, the elders of the village asked The Giving Circle to provide a school,” Robin said. “Villagers and volunteers built a three-room school and found teachers. Then we built housing for the elders.” Today, the Kagoma Gate Friendship school building has many rooms, staffed with teachers and programs including chess. There is also a health clinic, a birthing center, and solar lights. Work is done by volunteers and funding is through donations and grants.
“This work fills my soul,” Robin confesses. “Doing so little can make a huge difference.” What can others do? “Besides volunteering, The Giving Circle collects shoes, clothing, and craft supplies,” Robin said. “We always need financial support for books, uniforms, and medical supplies. The list of what the people need is endless.” The lesson to be learned is simple. “Doing the right thing matters,” Robin said. “This work is like a ripple in a pond. Fill your heart with whatever you can do and share the feeling. Kindness is free.”
For information about THE GIVING CIRCLE or sponsoring a child in Uganda, contact Robin Solomon.
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