Meet The Team

 

Linda M. Schutter

Founder

 Hometown: Boulder, Colorado

 Born: New York City

My inspiration for starting Circle of Hands Uganda was rooted in my volunteer experience with a Boulder, CO-based non-profit called Educate!. I was amazed at Educate!’s innovation and success in designing a model of education which is creating a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in Uganda. Educate!’s methods influenced me to create my own personal mission: to help marginalized women find their voices, advocate for themselves and address their communities' unique challenges in sustainable ways.

This mission began in 2010 and has grown to become my passion and driving force. Through Educate!, I met my Ugandan partner Lillian Aero Olok and my path became clear. I created Circle of Hands Uganda to support Lillian’s initiative to empower women to lead productive, healthy lives while they support families and create socially responsible enterprises.

I never expected to meet them, hold their hands and listen to their stories.
I never expected to be embraced by strangers on the other side of the planet.
I never expected to fall in love with these women. But I did.



Lillian Aero Olok

Founder, Generate for Generations

Hometown: Namugongo, Uganda

I am the founder of Generate for Generations, a program in partnership with Circle of Hands Uganda, which provides entrepreneurship skills and health education to 230+ AIDS-affected widows in four communities across Uganda. I love my work! I love being an inspiration, a mentor to my daughter and my artisans. It is such a BIG task with lots of challenges and responsibilities.

But, I love the balance I have with work, my daughter, and my life. Every single bead is a transformation of a woman/widow and her family. As a violence survivor, I became a single mother at age 16 with few options for an education and a bright future. I am their most empathic supporter and dedicated warrior.

I went back to school at the age of 20 because I did not want to be a victim of circumstance. I did not want to blindly believe societal norms. I want my daughter and all women to not only be accepted, but also be valued, educated and encouraged as well. I want to empower these women to become independent, self sufficient and confident but first, I needed to learn how to become all of these things myself.

I earned a bachelor's degree in social work and community development from Kyambogo University and a postgraduate degree in project management from Kanthari Leadership Institute for Social Entrepreneurs in South India Trivandrum. I'm an alumni of Global Business Labs Uganda and serve on numerous advisory boards.





  Melanie Vert

Intern

Hometown: Namugongo, Uganda

Born: Toronto, Ontario

I am from Toronto, Canada and graduated from Carroll College in Montana with a double major in Sociology and Psychology.

I interned with the college's Peace and Justice Center and focused on promoting fair trade on campus. The biggest success came when Fair Trade Campaigns declared Carroll College a fair trade campus.

"Fair Trade Campaigns is a powerful grassroots movement mobilizing Fair Trade consumers and advocates across the US to increase the availability of Fair Trade products."

Following my passion, I reached out to Circle of Hands Uganda to learn more about their mission and explore the possibilities of working with them on the ground in Uganda. I was welcomed with open arms and am focusing on quality control, social media and website development for the umbrella organization Generate for Generations.

The wisdom I am gaining from being on the ground with the artisans and embracing their way of living and culture has been life altering. Lillian and the ladies inspire me every day through their challenging lives and strength to persevere. I hope to support this organization on the ground in any way I can while also sharing our work with the world so we can continue to support our current communities and reach more in the future!


 


 

Patrick Luzze

Accounting Intern

Hometown: Kampala, Uganda

My name is Patrick Luzze and I was born in 1990 in the Mukono district of Uganda. I share many similarities with Lillian: we are both graduates of the Namugongo Secondary and Vocational School and the Educate! program. We had similar financial struggles to remain in school. During college I became a Mentor in the Educate! Program. While teaching for them, I continued my small business of selling vegetables as a way to earn extra income to support my family of siblings and widowed mother.


As part of my Accounting and Finance Administration focus, I was selected to intern with Generate for Generations to create an improved accounting system.
This was possible because I had known Lillian for many years and have admired her outstanding work and strong passion for her mission which she exhibits every day.

 

It is a pleasure for me to work with the excellent team of Generate for Generations and all the ladies who are working tooth and nail for the success of the organization.

 

 

 

 
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