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It is never easy to say goodbye.
It gets harder to bid farewell to people who have touched our lives personally. But letting go of someone who was such a big mover in our community and whose work impacted so many of us, is going to be difficult, to say the least.
Leslie Simpson, founder and most outspoken advocate for Roundabout, has made great strides in her social enterprise work in China. In the process of establishing the organization’s work, Simpson was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and has shared with us some photos from the awarding ceremony early this year. Now, as it is with most expat friends, it is Leslie’s turn to leave.
Roundabout has been in the Beijing expat community since 2008 when Leslie started its first charity store in mainland China. From this first endeavor, it has expanded to support 48 charitable organizations in the Beijing area and many more throughout China and Mongolia.
Headed by volunteers, Roundabout provides free services connecting those who wish to give monetary donations or goods in kind, to those in need. The enterprise has become a great social “leveler”, as adults, students, children of all nationalities, and local ayis all play their part and leave their mark through the center’s work.
Cash donations are earmarked for the medical needs of local impoverished children. Donations in kind are sorted as being either directly for communities in need or, if still in good condition, then prepared for sale at the store. This latter outlet is a good resource, not just for local families of limited means but also for expat families seeking slightly used (or sometimes even brand new) sports equipment, seasonal decor, costumes, and toys.
Roundabout also hosts book fairs at the international schools and a range of other expat community venues. All proceeds from the sales and store go towards medical costs for orphans and other less fortunate individuals, sheltered housing for the elderly, warm blankets, food, and the distribution of other basic items. The aid it provides also extends to people who are mentally or physically challenged, and to women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Recently Roundabout initiated its “1 in a million” fundraising campaign. The idea is to get one million people to contribute RMB 1 (or more) towards the urgent medical expenses of several children. Fundraising packs containing posters, flyers and stickers are available at a number of venues across the city for those who would like to help.
With all the great work that Leslie has managed to do, it will not be easy to say goodbye. She has been so influential in the Shunyi community for five years but now it is time for Leslie and her family to move on to other pastures.
The lovely volunteer group at Roundabout has organized a farewell and thank you event for Leslie. Come along on Sunday, December 8, at Pinotage in Shunyi from noon-5pm. There will be books to sign, memories to record, and words to say. If you cannot make it, you can put anything in the book by email your notes to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be a great way to honor Leslie and all her amazing work, as well as to assure her that it will continue with the new batch of volunteers.
Chuangyi Yuan, 3A Shunhuang Lu, Sunhe Township, near Beidong Flower Market (8459 5868 for directions) 孙河乡顺黄路甲3号创意园内, 近北东花卉市场
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Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.
Photo by Charlotte Moreau