Accomplish founder Rebecca Cornish returned to Uganda in March 2016 to meet with our partner organisations. Here she reports on her experiences.
I was once again impressed to see the amazing difference all these projects are making in children’s lives.
Accomplish currently works in two areas in Uganda – Kasese and Fort Portal – which are two hours’ drive apart. We have been working in Kasese and nearby Kagando since 2008 supporting two organisations: Rwenzori Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities (RAPCD) and Save the Disabled Children’s Home (SADICH). RAPCD has a special needs primary school and does a lot of work to improve attitudes towards disability. Meanwhile, SADICH runs an epilepsy treatment programme and a vocational training centre. In Fort Portal we support a rehabilitation centre and several income-generating projects for families.
RAPCD built its school to serve 120 pupils and is already oversubscribed, taking on 139 children this year. RAPCD intends to construct a second hostel to grow the school to 200 students. It is also building a secondary school.
RAPCD’s vision touched my heart. It’s hard to accurately share the difference this school makes to its pupils’ lives.
Seeing children in a school setting where they have friends and a sense of belonging is wonderful. Maali Wilson, founder of RAPCD, observed that: “The children look more beautiful, brighter and healthier than before they are brought to us.”
One of the older pupils who has just graduated told us that before he attended school, people would laugh at him because he was blind. Yet now they see him playing the keyboard and drums and reading Braille, and he is respected in his community. He eagerly awaits the completion of RAPCD’s secondary school so he can continue his studies.
SADICH’s vocational centre in the small village of Kagando is a hub of activity. It was great to see so many young people there with a wide variety of different disabilities, all of whom have board and lodging in dormitories financed by Accomplish. We saw students relaxing after their studies by playing volleyball and other sports.
Over the eight years that Accomplish has supported RAPCD and SADICH, we have seen local people’s attitudes towards children with disabilities changing.
By contrast, I was surprised and saddened when we visited Fort Portal to see how many children with disabilities were not in school, and to hear of the discrimination they were facing. One teacher even wrote in a report: “[this] child would do much better if they were normal”! Because of cases like this, the Kyaninga Child Development Centre (KCDC) is liaising with local schools to help teachers cater for children with special needs.
When we visited KCDC, the therapists were using local resources to make toys for children to use at home to carry out their exercises. It was sad to hear that prior to KCDC being founded last year, many of the children they now treat were told by the local hospital that nothing could be done for them. KCDC has taught children how to sit, play, and in some cases walk, and in so doing it has given their parents hope. Indeed, we saw smiles all round!
For the last two years, our Christmas campaigns have raised money for the Rwenzori Special Needs Foundation to give pigs and agricultural equipment to families in Fort Portal whose children have disabilities. Most of these families live a hand-to-mouth existence so an animal or crops can have a huge impact. We saw how last year’s families had not only produced food to eat and seeds to replant, but they had also sold crops and bought pigs. They plan to sell piglets and use the income to buy food and pay medical bills or school fees. I’m always amazed by how much difference these gifts make to a family, over and over again.