Koen Van Rompay (Founder, Secretary-Treasurer)
I was born and raised in Belgium. My passion for animals led me to become a veterinary doctor at the University of Ghent (Belgium). Thanks to a fellowship from the Belgian-American Educational Foundation (BAEF), I came to the University of California, Davis (UCD), where I have been doing HIV/AIDS research. I am currently Full Research Professor at UCD. In 1997, I became involved in India, which led to the start of Sahaya International, as described elsewhere. I spend most of his free time on the daily management of Sahaya International. I enjoy making a difference and meeting many inspirational people along the way.
Koen has received several awards, including the 2006 Alumnus of the Year Award by the University of Antwerp, the International Peace-Maker Award (Teach Peace Foundation), the 2010 Excellence in Research Award (Academic Federation, University of California), the 2010 Community Service Award (University of California, Davis).
In 2002, I was inspired to join Sahaya International after visiting various cities in India and seeing so many people living in poverty and suffering. My main visit was to help cities in India reduce greenhouse gas emissions but after I came back to Davis, I read an article about Sahaya International that inspired me to join Sahaya. I wanted to make a difference by helping families that were suffering and that Sahaya was doing it. Since 2002, I have visited Sahaya’s programs in India several times and I have seen first hand how it has improved living conditions for women, children, and the community. My profession as a civil & environmental engineer has been useful in educating the local villages as to how they may reduce their impact on the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using solar cookers. I am grateful to be part of this great organization and be able to give back to our global family & community. Making a difference starts today by helping someone in need and showing that we care. It is everyone’s responsibility to create a compassionate and caring global community.
“If you contribute to other people’s happiness you will find the true meaning of life. The key point is to have a genuine sense of universal responsibility.” By Dalai Lama