The End of One Journey and the Beginning of the Next

2008 Jewellery Training Graduation Ceremony

I remember like it was yesterday my very first flight to Uganda – it was January 2007.  I went with a one-way ticket to volunteer as a doula and it was on that first trip that I met some of the friends and women who would forever change my life.  In the years to follow I shared my time between Canada and Uganda and have been blessed to experience the unfolding of a community vision and organization like no other. Since then we have established a thriving Women’s Group, built a Birth House and welcomed hundreds of babies into the world. We continue to employ 14 staff in Uganda.  The members of our women’s group have transformed their capacity as local leaders and the mothers who birth their babies have recreated a new, empowered model for birth in Uganda.

I continue to be amazed by the heart and soul of Shanti Uganda; The amazing women who inspired our vision, our beneficiaries and partners, our staff in Uganda, our board and supporters here at home and the many individuals who cross our path along the way. We are and have always been a family and it is this spirit that continues to spark the many vibrant programs that take place at the Shanti Uganda Birth House and the culture that makes us so unique.

Members of the Women’s Group gather after receiving bikes for Christmas Dec 2009

In Jan, 2012, my husband and I were able to bring our daughter Satya with us to the Birth House and we are so excited as we prepare now for the arrival of our second child in March.

Since becoming a Non Profit in 2008, my goal has been to ensure the organization not rely on any one person for success. I believe strongly that all organizations should follow this practice and not focus their growth and sustainability on a founder – this value enables us to keep our focus on the community we serve.

Natalie & Nic during the construction of the Birth House March 2010

After 5 years of leading Shanti Uganda as Executive Director, I have decided to step away in preparation for our second child and to turn my focus to my family – I look forward to supporting the organization in other ways.  The timing of this decision was made possible as soon as I met our outgoing Project Coordinator, Sadie St. Denis. It is with great excitement that I announce that upon completing her position as Project Coordinator in Uganda this week, Sadie will be moving to Vancouver to take over as Executive Director of Shanti Uganda. After working together for the last year and a half via email and phone, I am thrilled to be able to spend January with Sadie in our office here before she takes over the role at the end of January.

Sadie and Natalie working on site at the Birth House Jan 2012
Sadie in the main building at the Birth House

Sadie leaves her role as Project Coordinator in Uganda this week and after spending the last month training together, our incoming Project Coordinator, Salam Jegbhir takes over.

The leadership of Shanti Uganda is stronger than ever and with our newly launched rebrand and many exciting new partnerships, the next five years will surely be as monumental as the last.  Sadie is a compassionate and wise leader and I have had the good fortune of working with her over the last year and a half to support her in her transition from leading our programs in Uganda to leading the organization as a whole.

Kato, Nic, Satya and Molengula enjoying the shade

My husband, Nic is on the board of directors and we look forward to supporting the organization in this capacity.  We will stay life-long donors and I will continue to act as an advisor & supporter to the organization – I know our family and friends will continue to do so as well.

This holiday season our staff and beneficiaries celebrate the arrival of Salam and say goodbye to Sadie as she makes her way back to Canada to spend the holidays with her family and then begin her new journey here in Vancouver.

I look forward to connecting with many of you over the next month and hope you will say hello!

In celebration of the many changes taking place, I invite you to join me as a monthly donor.  There is no better way to support Shanti Uganda than through a monthly $25 contribution.  In celebration of change – become a Birth Partner today!

The view from the top of our water tank



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  1. Robert Frost

    I enjoyed reading more about your organization and believe your project and ours can cooperate to achieve our common purposes.

  2. Shanti Uganda | 2013: Year-in-Review

    […] with an exciting transition in leadership. After five passionate years of guiding the organization, founder Natalie Angell-Besseling decides to step away and turn her focus to her family. Always believing that no organization should ever rely on the […]

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