Local fundraiser held to aid Ukraine and Uganda


A fundraiser that was started to help provide technology training to students in Uganda has expanded its reach to include raising money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. The “U-Touch the World” event took place Sunday, May 1, at Powerhouse Park in Del Mar. The event gave participants a chance to run, bike or walk laps. Teams and individuals were also able to participate from anywhere in the world and donate their earnings.

Proceeds from the fundraiser, founded by La Jolla Rotarian Deborah Plotkin, will benefit San Diego-based nonprofit U-Touch (u-touch.org), which she started in 2010 to provide digital literacy training for orphans in Uganda.

“I started raising money for Uganda when my daughter was a sophomore at La Jolla High School” in the early 2000s, Plotkin said. “We would sponsor children that were orphaned during the LRA War so they could go to school.”

When she went to Uganda to connect with the students and staff and see how the program was running, she was moved by the conditions there and wanted to do more.

“I listened to the stories, and tears were rolling down my face,” she said. “I formed a bond with these kids. I was fortunate enough to be in the U.S. and have opportunity. There, they had nothing. It was appalling.”

Seeing that there was no flow of information by way of computers, she formed U-Touch, which stands for Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs, to provide computers and digital literacy training. Since then, more than 6,000 people have been trained, and many of them went on to teach others in their communities.

A U-Touch Club formed at La Jolla High in 2006 and still operates.

“The club has been striving to break the cycle of poverty in Uganda,” said U-Touch Club Vice President Matteya Adams. “The goals of U-Touch include providing opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Uganda to have access to education and technology. The main mission of the club is to fundraise to pay our sponsor students’ tuition.”

Throughout the year, the club puts up posters, talks to classes about its efforts and holds fundraisers. That includes the U-Touch the World event. Last year, the inaugural U-Touch run/bike/walk raised money for the Uganda effort, and organizers this year opted to include humanitarian assistance for Ukraine amid the current war there. The U-Touch board of directors will decide how the money will be divided.

To donate, visit givebutter.com/utouchtheworldannualrun.

“I believe the best way of healing is giving and giving of ourselves,” Plotkin said. “If we can change one life, it changes our lives forever. My purpose on this planet is to help others help themselves and make a difference in their lives.” —Report by Ashley Mackin-Solomin, La Jolla Light

Photos by Jon Clark