Accomplish supporter Chris Acton travelled to Uganda in March 2016 with two of our trustees to see our work for himself and to meet our partner organisations. In the following blog, Chris provides a valuable observer’s insight into the actions our partners are taking to improve conditions for children with disabilities.
I’m honestly not sure how I found myself travelling to Kagando. But despite the poverty and suffering that I witnessed, I’m very glad that I did.
As someone who works for the NHS as an adviser to GP practices, I often find myself grumbling with others about the difficulties of getting things done. As many others, I was feeling somewhat despondent about our health service, and saddened by national events such as the current junior doctors’ strike. For selfish reasons therefore I thought: “I need to get away from it for a bit, so why not let’s go see what it’s like in Uganda?”
What I saw and experienced was remarkable. I’m not a good Christian, but suddenly I was meeting with those who are terrific Christians. I can only hope that some of their passion and zest will rub off on me. I found myself going to Kagando hospital chapel most mornings and the service was filled with Ugandan hospital staff preparing for the day ahead. This meant preparing to meet an overwhelming need. Their hospital, with 250 beds, is always overflowing, and people die every day from illnesses of poverty – malnutrition, malaria and cholera to name just three.
So as a non-clinical health manager from a developed country what on earth could I do?
I started by visiting the hospital and began to learn about illness and disease in this part of Africa. This was a very useful backdrop to visiting RAPCD which provides education and training for children with disabilities, and SADICH which is a special purpose facility to support the vocational training of children and their families who suffer with disabilities.
These charities are remarkable for so many reasons. They are happy, well-led and effective organisations which are giving disabled children a chance to learn, earn money, and have a normal life. The kids have all come from desperately poor homes, and without the opportunities that these projects offer, their lives would not be filled with such hope and possibility.
On other days during my trip I was taken on outreach clinics. This involved visiting some extremely isolated villages to meet with families that Accomplish has been advised have children with disabilities who need assistance. Many of these children suffer from epilepsy, which can be treated with drugs that are easily provided.
We also gave a pig, some seeds or some chickens to families who wanted to start a small project which would help them to make a living.
In this short piece about my visit I do not want to list all the difficulties for so many Ugandans of living in such a challenging and impoverished locality. I suspect many readers will be well aware of these anyway. What I want to do is to say thank you to the trustees of Accomplish for allowing me to visit RAPCD, SADICH and other projects the trust supports, and to say to all supporters in the UK that wonderful work is being done.
So rest assured that every pound is being spent on great things that are dramatically improving people’s lives, and quite possibly, saving lives.
As I continue to reflect on what I’ve seen and heard, I will write more about this incredible experience. In the meantime though, I’m happy to chat with anyone who would like to hear more.