Sad News

Our The Giving Circle and The Giving Circle Africa family are so sad to have to inform you of the death of the father of our Nurse/ Midwife Alikoba Elizabeth. We are all sending our love to Elizabeth and her family. She has saved so many lives and brought so many babies into the world. Yet, surrounded by life, she must grieve the death of her beloved father. We grieve with our sister over this loss, Nsonyiwa Elizabeth Taata wange, Weeraba Ssebo.
Weeraba Ssebo
We will see you soon, dear Elizabeth.

Five Days and Counting

The 28th is less than a week away. We will be heading to our Ugandan family and projects. We’re very excited for what looks like a great team this year and so much to do, so many great projects in the pipeline. Every year we get larger and do more. What’s coming will be amazing, helping many thousands. And it is all thanks to so many of YOU. Keep watch on my page, The Giving Circle page and the blog
As they say in Uganda,  “Long Leave TGCA!”

First Teachers Quarters Building

This just in From Emma Walubi, the best builder in Uganda:
The first of the Teachers Quarters for our teaching staff at Kagoma Gate nears completion. This building is named the Hudson house, in honor of and with great thanks to Scott Hudson and his wife Maritza Margheritti.
In time there will be two more of these buildings. It is important to reward our great teachers and show the villagers what education brings: nice homes, good jobs, hope, and a future. The ability to read and write opens many doors, real doors, not the piece of fabric that is the door of a mud hut.
P.S. The team will be painting the units.

Undies and Socks Off To Africa

A Great Weebale Nnyo /thank you to the Fort Miller Reformed Church (Schuylerville) for a HUGE donation of socks and underwear for our Ugandan children, and great thanks to Christine Garney who we are so happy is part of The Giving Circle family and is always there for all we do. Thanks you to Old Saratoga Reformed Church and Bacon Hill Reformed Church.
Also a big underwear and sock donation by board member and Recording Secretary Mary C. Mahoney, for her very kind and large donation.
Many of our children at all our locations going to be sporting new undies and socks. That will include children in the Mutai, a most poor area outside of Kagoma Gate Village.
Thank You !!!

Mark’s Thoughts On June 16, 2018

I know I can be long, and at times hard to read- but please listen to the video and read this (suffer through my poor English)
This is one of the most important, one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard. It is one that touches home.
Use your scars to change the lives of others, who cannot ease their own suffering, and to bring hope to the hopeless. Use your pain and suffering to bring to the suffering that which will change their lives: loving kindness, respect, and compassion. Provide education that will empower them to do for them selves. Bring seeds will that create opportunity for self pride and will permit them to sustain themselves.
Never look to be depended on. Rather look to be the planters of seeds who then move on. That is selfless compassion, the essence of The Giving Circle. It is what I was told was impossible. I was a dumb, worthless failure who could never change the world. “Experts” declared that my vision for a charity could never be realized. No charity could operate as I dreamed.
Thirteen years later the dreamt of charity is alive and growing. That is because, YES, your scars, mistakes, and failures can be used to make you better and to change the world. And, YES, because many people, doing simply what they can, together may change the world.
I pray prejudice and hate pass as illness can. I pray we come to see what really matters, that we come to understand that material things are impermanent and even fleeting. I pray that we come to grasp that we are all interconnected and interdependent. Let us understand that the seeds of compassion we plant take hold. That every act of compassion is a ripple in an endless ocean of the universe/ multiverse. When we pass, we take ONLY the seeds we planted, be they hateful or filled with love. To me, that is our karma.
In Charlie Chaplin’s final speech from his film, “The Great Dictator”, he says ” In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you!”

For my Christian friends and in fact my friends of any belief who use their Holy Books to hate, you are lost and foolish.

We read from the King James Bible in Matthew 25:40-45:
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was hungred, and ye gave me no meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in, naked and ye clothed me not, sick and in prison and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Please don’t say you are religious and on your holy days dare say “We are all God’s children” then hate anyone because he may differ from you in any way. Otherwise, you are a hypocrite.
Just have for all living beings the very same loving kindness, respect, and compassion you seek for yourselves, your loved ones, your children, or even your grandmothers.
Plant the seeds of love and hope, help the suffering to their feet, provide tools freely, then move on. And do that again and again.
Use your pain, your suffering, your scars as tools for good. Forgive whoever made you suffer, KNOWING that they did this to you from suffering in their own lives. Then forgive them and be free from the prison of “poor me” and be free to ease the suffering of any who need you. It is all you leave behind.
A single seed gives a plant with many flowers, each of which gives thousands of seeds, which in turn give thousands of plants with many flowers. Ultimately, from that first plant, there come to be millions of seeds, then trillions.
End of my rant. Maybe you’ll tag it and share.

Excited About Our Uganda Trip

Mark says about leaving for Uganda:
Looking forward to many things on what will be a most wonderful trip, with what looks to be a great team. I will so busy with many meetings, of which several will be about our developing The Giving Circle’s KOIKOI Teachers University.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy

Reminder: Donating Undies For Our Kids In Uganda

For all our local friends: Planning to donate new underwear and socks to our children in Uganda? You can still do so at Fingerpaint’s — location on Broadway in Saratoga — today (Thursday) until 4pm and tomorrow (Friday) until noon. Then I must pick up the donations to pack for the trip to Africa.
Thank you all so much. And of course a huge “Weebale Nnyo” (THANK YOU) to Bo Sig and Fingerpaint for always being there for so many.

Posted by Mark Bertrand on Saturday, June 2, 2018