Back in 2005, two small 'acorns' were being planted in SW Uganda. Biira Agnes and Maali Wilson both had disabled children. Neither liked the generally accepted view that disabled children are a waste of space (or worse). As Christians they both felt that all life is God-given and precious. Independently and in two separate areas they formed small self-help groups for a few like-minded parents meeting about once a month in hired rooms. Agnes' group was called the Save our Disabled Children's Home (SADICH) and met in Kagando village near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Maali's group was named The Rwensori Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities (RAPCD) and met about thirty miles from Kagando near the town of Kasese. The huge Rwenzori mountain range (or Mountains of the Moon) forms the impressive backdrop to this whole, vast area.
On 6th July 2005 (the day London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games) a young British physiotherapist, Rebecca Cornish (nee Baldock) flew out to Uganda for three years to work as a volunteer missionary. She was posted to Kagando Mission Hospital. Part of her duties was to assess disabilities within the community and thus she met Agnes and Maali. She planted her own tiny 'acorn' on her return to UK in 2008 by founding Accomplish Children's Trust (Accomplish) - with just £10 in the bank - to support these two projects. At this time the goal of the two groups was to give mutual support to parents of children with disabilities. They also hoped to start a pig project.
Four years later, in 2012, Rebecca made her second return visit to this part of Uganda by which time the three tiny and vulnerable 'acorns' had grown into sturdy saplings. SADICH had grown from hiring one room occasionally into a vocational training centre owning a six-roomed building used for medical clinics, jewelry making, hairdressing and offices. In addition they have large workshops in a separate building for the teaching of tailoring and carpentry and also a toilet block, a water supply and electricity installed. The outreach programme into surrounding villages to reach disabled children is a huge success, reaching over 400 children. Many great projects operate from the SADICH vocational centre at Kagando including a goat project where the goat is owned by the disabled child thus bringing resources to his/her family. The proximity of the Kagando Mission Hospital has meant much medical support has been given to many disabled children.
Meanwhile the RAPCD group has grown into an integrated child education centre - primarily a primary school for deaf or blind children. Rebecca found happy pupils eager to learn and play, and dedicated staff caring and teaching. The school has two classrooms which duplicate as dormitories at night, toilets and a kitchen area - and a treasured tap for running water. RAPCD have also started an outreach project reaching children with many disabilities.
Accomplish had also grown during these four years. In 2012 we received donations in excess of £19,000. All the money we receive is sent to Uganda and pays for the wages of eight teachers, three support staff, food for the pupils at the school, secondary school fees for seven pupils who are deaf or blind and the cost of running the outreach programmes. We have also paid for virtually all of the buildings at both projects plus many one-off needs such as text books and equipment, mosquito nets and beds, desks and water storage tanks.
This joint growth is nothing short of miraculous, and these three small 'oak trees' keep growing. In 2013, thanks to a generous legacy, both SADICH and RAPCD projects are in the process of building dormitories, washrooms, toilets and kitchens. The dormitory at SADICH will soon be home to twenty disabled youngsters who will be taught vocational skills to help them move into adult life with the hope of employment. The RAPCD centre has a five-year plan to expand the primary school gradually by 15 pupils a year until reaching 120 children. The reputation of the school has spread and places are in demand. There is no other provision for deaf or blind children in this large region and the school is becoming a centre of excellence for disabled children. The dormitory being built at the school will be big enough to provide for the maximum 120 pupils.
One of the Accomplish Trustees, Dr. Chris Harris, has just spent a year working at Kagando Hospital. Whilst there he set up both village and outreach clinics from the SADICH base to diagnose and treat epilepsy and provide follow-up. Accomplish will be funding the continuation of these clinics.
The clinics have been life-transforming, as has much of the work carried out by the RAPCD and SADICH. Attitudes towards disabled children have been challenged and changed by the transformed lives of the children Accomplish supports.
An unbelievable amount has been achieved to help some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in Africa and given them a much brighter future. We are all excited at the prospect of what the next four years will achieve!