Getting It Together for the Uganda Trip

This year’s The Giving Circle team visiting Uganda looks to be one of the best ever. It will certainly be the largest.
So many things to do, so many items to order, so much to get organized as we get ready for The Giving Circle’s upcoming team trip!
One example of an event to which we want pay particular attention is our Kagoma Gate chess team’s finishing 3rd in the Ugandan Nationals. In addition to the tee-shirts Chris Dunn of Royal Flush Ink printed for members of both teams, we also plan to honor this Kagoma team and teachers with a nice banner.

We also plan to present many other commemorative gifts to honor the hard work of our TGCA leadership team, the staffs at both schools, the clinic, our five full time leadership staff developing the Koi Koi Teachers University organization, our farm staff, and more. But you’ll understand that these items will be kept secret for now.
Trophies for the Spelling Bee, Math Contest, Chess Tourney, and Scrabble Tourney at each school were ordered and delivered. We also plan to bring new ribbons for the sports day events and more.
Traveling with us will also be a new banner printed to hang in the green house. Here we are running two amazing styles of aquaponic farming.
One of the project is the brainchild of our Danish/Viking TGC member, Lars P. Anholm. The system will add fish and vegetables to our students’ diets, while reducing overhead. The project will also generate an income stream, while producing super charged “waste” that will feed our gardens and banana plantation outside the greenhouse. With the acquisition of a small amount of money to purchase the last of the equipment, we can soon anticipate enjoying the first fish fry. Great job, Lars P. Anholm
The other is the design of TGC team member Dr Scott Hudson from Washington State University. This system is smaller and more basic. The structure consists of a hole dug into the ground. The resulting design can be replicated by villagers at their homes. The cost is striking low, particularly in relationship to the family’s financial gain.
Both of these systems are life science classrooms, for children hoping to pursue scientific studies as well as for children who simply want to learn to be the very best farmers possible.

Terrific Trophies

Shipment came today with awards for educational tournaments at both our schools during the summer team trip. Aren’t they terrific??!!!

REMINDER: Sunday Afternoon With Liam

PLEASE consider a VERY cool and important fundraiser coming up very soon: The Summit Clothing Company Fundraiser for the Summit Forest.

WHERE: Saratoga Winery 462 NY-29 Saratoga
WHEN: Sunday, May 20th 4-7pm
WHAT: Live music, food, beverages, games and more
WHY: Help make a reality of the first TGC
Summit Clothing Company Self-sustainable Forest.
HOW MUCH: Just $20 per person
TICKETS: On line at…/fundraiser-ticket
At the door.

One-hundred fifteen acres are already under a twenty year lease. The funds Liam Rice’s company is raising will help clear that land and plant thousands of trees there. In three years, the forest will be thinned. Selling the downed trees will earn $30,000 usd, half of which will be used to start the 2nd Summit Forest.
After fifteen years, the first forest will have matured and be ready to cut. We anticipate that this will bring The Giving Circle $1.3 Million usd, rendering all our Ugandan / African projects self supporting. Replanting this land will begin the cycle again.
If we achieve the goal of thinning each forest every three years and using half the income to start another forest, The Giving Circle and our African branch will have many forests. We hope that this program will annually produce a mature forest ready to harvest and, we believe, offer over a million dollars of income. These funds will support and grow our projects in Uganda, then throughout Africa, and eventually throughout the 3rd world. It is this self-sustainability that is integral to the mission of The Giving Circle.
We can be very proud of Liam Rice, an amazing young man. He will continue the work long after the geezers like me can’t.
Please read about this important forest at

REMINDER: Fund Raising Art Auction

Only 10 days to this amazing event. Great thanks always to Bill and Hilary Reilly, the students, friends, staff of Bethlehem Middle school, and all who donate and buys this beautiful art.
Half the funds raised benefit our programs in Uganda. This year’s donations will help us complete our very important Aquaponics system, which will raise fish and plants to feed the children, greatly improving their nutrition. It will lower the operational costs of growing our own protein (fish) and increase availability of vegetables. Plus, the process will create an income that will buy needed educational supplies.
In addition, the Aquaponics project is a living life science classroom for the children.
For the system’s design and much of its construction thanks go out to our TGC Danish brother Lars P. Anholm

Getting Started In Kabul

Lets start the week off with some GREAT The Giving Circle News.
“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” Malala Yousafzai
We’re about to wire the funds so that construction will start soon on the VERY much needed three room expansion to a vastly overcrowded high school near Kabul, Afghanistan. As with all that we manage to do, this achievement is happening thanks to many people. The Youth Squared Saratoga Youth Squared- Youth Helping Youth Program only last week provided a $500 grant. The funds we will wire will build this addition, we will include additional funds to but some needed supplies.
I am so very proud of Reese Fulmer, Skidmore student and now The Giving Circle board member, who was sent to talk to me by then Mayor Joanne Dittes Yepsen. He’d written a paper questioning why more charities could not operate the way we do. In response, Mayor Yepsen gave him my contact information. This led to our having a very long talk at the end of which I offered him a challenge. He accepted the proposal and has already completed part one.
Special thanks to Caffe Lena, our partners on this project, Afghans4Tomorrow and my brother Nang Attal.
We will keep you all updated as the building goes up.

A Happy Story About Arms

Mark wrote: “I was so happy to receive an e-mail from Kristin and the Siena e-Nable team. They had not forgotten about a request I had made for a very special, very beautiful, and very shy young lady. As you may remember, in 2017 the Siena e-Nable team, lead by Alyx Gleason and Miranda Marnes, made an arm for our daughter Veronica. (We were delighted when both of these young women were able to join last summer’s Uganda team.) The arm they built was delivered by Siena grad, Dr Manny Cirenza, in March, 2017.
During that trip, we visited the New Victory School, a primary school which is close to our current Koi Koi Home. While there we were able to spend some time with our youngest kids from our Koi Koi Home and with my great friend Ernest Kasami, the school’s founder.
Ernest introduced us to the beautiful young lady in the pictures. As you can see, she is VERY badly burned. In place of her left hand she has a stump that is longer than Veronica’s. But, unlike Veronica, this dear girl suffered so much bicep damage that she has little to no movement in the arm. I asked her if she would you like to have a hand and arm that would be the same color as her skin. I explained that, because she didn’t have much movement in what was left of her natural arm, a new one couldn’t work like Veronica’s. Still, in response, this terribly shy girl gave a little smile and said YES. Being a big hugger, I told her that indeed I’d be needing a hug. It was quickly clear that this sweetheart had not had many hugs in her life. She gave me a hug that was so tight and so filled with love.
After we returned, I contacted Siena ‘s Dr. Bellis, the advisor to the e-Nable club. I asked if the team could make an arm for this sweetheart. Admittedly, this arm will be almost 100% cosmetic. But having both arms and hands would make her feel “whole.”
The great news is that it seems the e-Nable club can create an arm for our girl in September. The plan is to get all the measurements this summer. When I return to Uganda in February 2019, it will be with the new arm for a very happy girl who now hugs me with two arms.
In truth, I will just be the delivery man. It will be the students of Siena’s e-Nable team who will make this child as whole as she can be and leave her very, very happy. We owe a huge thank you to the current Siena e-Nable team and to Dr. Mathew Bellis. And special mention and thanks to Miranda Marnes, Alyx Gleason, Sara Mahar, and all the Siena e-Nable team who got the ball rolling with Veronica.”

More Chess News

For the 2018 spring Ugandan Chess National Championships our Busoga team did their very best. Nevertheless, they were unable THIS time to bring home any medals.
We introduced Chess to Busoga several years after we did at Kagoma Gate, so the Busoga kids are still building strength. At this year’s tournament, they learned great lessons and gathered more experience.
Given all this, of course we are very proud of them. In fact, I am predicting Busoga’s first medalist will emerge at the next event.

Better Housing for our Teachers

In a country where only 33% of children complete primary school, we can look to Kagoma Gate village for another marker of great success. In the pictures we see the first of four residential buildings that will be erected in Kagoma Gate. Each building will offer four apartments, representing a level of housing in which great stature is attained by residing there. We have two reasons for planning this construction.
The first is to reward the hard work of our teaching staff.
The second and possibly more important is to convince the children and villagers of the importance of education. With teachers having access to this housing, there will be hard evidence of the resulting benefits of pursuing education.
Either of these goals is sufficient for us to guarantee that teachers do not live in mud huts.
Thanks so much to TGC team member Dr. Scott Hudson for providing the means for this first structure. During this year’s trip, Scott will be adding solar power and lighting to the building. And of course thanks go to Emma Walubi for designing and building this important housing.

Good News From The Worlds Of Chess and Academia

GREAT news on two fronts!
The first concerns our chess stars.
Information is starting to come in from the Ugandan Chess Primary School National Championships.
So far we’ve only gotten news about our Kagoma Gate team. But it is sterling!
Our Kagoma Gate School finished 3rd of 11 teams!!! Check out that trophy. Plus, as individuals, the team produced FOUR champion medalist. As you can see in the photo, our group of four medalists are made up of three girls and one boy.
We’re expecting more terrific news about our Busoga School team shortly.

Academically, we have reason to crow also. And we could not be more proud.
Less than seven years ago we walked into a terribly poor village, Kagoma Gate. It was so poor that it was called the “forgotten village.” And yet in 2017 thirty-eight of this village’s children sat for the national exam for promotion onto secondary school. ALL but one passed (and she will pass this year!). In other words, in 2017 our thirty-eight students comprised the FIRST candidate class EVER from this village. To put this into context, consider that in Uganda 67% of children drop out before completing primary school. From our TGCA Kagoma Gate School, thirty eight sat/ took the national exam and all passed or will pass.
Further good academic news comes in from our Busoga school, where attendance has become the norm for school aged children. This success is documented by the fact that ALL qualified students passed the national test.
In a country where only 33% of children complete primary school, we can look to Kagoma Gate village for great success. Here, where just a few years ago there were no educational opportunities, so much has been accomplished. And our efforts in the Busoga school have been more than well rewarded. We must thank so many of you for these great reports. Please keep standing with us, there is so much more to be done. This includes a plan for our Teachers University with its new system of Collaborative Hybrid Curriculum that in time will assure that the percentage of children completing primary school will zoom towards the sky.
We are so very proud of these kids, the teaching staff, our great TGCA leadership staff, our friend Robert Katende Initiative and his trainers, and all of you who help make these dreams come true.

We need to send special thanks to one of our teachers, Peter Kutosi, for this update. It has brought a great deal of joy into an otherwise tough day.

Happy Teachers’ Day: Where Would We Be Without You?

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day to ALL who set out to open the world to children through education, in fact through the very best education their selfless dedication can produce.
Thank you & Happy Teacher Appreciation Day to ALL The Giving Circle teachers everywhere – including those on board now and all those who will join us. You serve our children with compassion, guidance, time, hard work, and quality instruction. With this support, our children will break the chains of ignorance and oppression.
Mahatma Gandhi said “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” We are doing exactly that. And, as we do, ripples from our efforts are starting to radiate.
Because of so many of YOU, we have two schools in Africa and are about to construct another school in Afghanistan with a friend. In addition, we are hard at work developing our Koi Koi Teachers University. The university’s systems can – check that – WILL change the face of education in the poorest schools in Uganda first. The ripple effects of this effort will then spread throughout the world. Eventually, thousands of small satellite schools will employ a Collaborative Hybrid Curriculum that will be developed with its basis in listening to the community and showing RESPECT for the community’s existing values. We must accomplish this for EVERY child, regardless of the child’s being “healthy” or disabled, let alone brilliant or “slow.” We must never, ever, ever give up on a child. It’s true that not all learn at the same pace or in the same way. But ALL can learn and ALL have the potential to change the world. The only factor needed is someone to educate them and believe in them. And for that we have teachers.