The seed for Circle of Hands Uganda was planted in January, 2009 when the founder, Linda M. Schutter began volunteering for a Boulder, CO-based non-profit called Educate!. Educate! has created an innovative education system in Uganda to develop a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs who will solve the challenges of poverty, disease, violence, and environmental degradation. Through mentorship and leadership training, their students create self-sustaining enterprises and initiatives. (GWA side note: This video is one of the most inspirational we have ever seen. You will be hard pressed not to tear up.)
As Educate! was inspiring Ugandan youth, so too did they inspire Linda to create a personal mission: to help marginalized women find their voices, advocate for themselves and address their communities’ unique challenges in sustainable ways.
Educate!’s star student Lillian Aero Olok embraced this program exceptionally by creating jobs and leading social change through her self-sustaining initiativeNamugongo Good Samaritan Project (NGSP), a program which provides critical services to 56 AIDS-affected widows-helping them start businesses, learn trade skills and healthy living.
Inspired by Lillian’s tenacity and determination to make a better life for AIDS-affected widows, Linda partnered with Lillian and the NGSP to create Circle of Hands Uganda to help empower women to lead productive, healthy lives while they support families and create socially responsible enterprises.
Before the NGSP:
They despaired that their children would be unable to attend school.
They were submissive and silent.
Historically, men have regarded women as useless, sickly, and incapable of contributing to the welfare of the community. Women continue to be belittled and undermined.
They advocate for access to medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and malaria.
They send their children to school and provide three meals per day.
They assert themselves by joining together to claim their rights and to insist that local leaders find solutions to the gravest challenges facing their communities.
Once abandoned, ostracized and marginalized, the ladies today have a sparkle in their eyes and a spring to their step. Given emotional support and professional training, they believe in themselves, trust each other and hope for a better, safer future. Content & Images: Circle of Hands Uganda Website