This year marks Accomplish’s 10th anniversary. Founder Rebecca Cornish reflects on an amazing decade:
When I left Uganda in 2008, I promised two tiny rural self-help organizations—RAP-CD and SADICH—that I would try to raise funds to support their work. Back then, none of us would have dared to believe that so many children’s lives would be transformed over the coming years. Our anniversary is a great opportunity to offer our heartfelt thanks for your support and for believing in us.
With virtually no resources, RAP-CD and SADICH were helping local children with disabilities and meeting a huge need in their communities. Setting up a UK-registered charity seemed the best option to generate support for them and reach children with disabilities in remote rural regions of Africa. I recall struggling to explain the awful situation faced by these extremely poor, neglected and vulnerable children – and the vision of what we wanted to achieve.
One of the things that makes what we do such a joy is that we are supporting local Africans to change their own communities and meet the needs they see. Working cross-culturally in this manner can be challenging and requires grace and patience on both sides. But everything we’ve achieved been carried out by dedicated people with a passion for meeting local children’s needs and changing their communities’ attitudes towards disabilities.
A fifth of the world’s poorest people live with disabilities. “Persons with disabilities are statistically more likely to experience poverty, while poverty itself also increases the incidence of disability. The link between poverty and disability is particularly striking as 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries,” according to the United Nations.
“Many, if not most, of disabled children are not enrolled in schools in developing countries,” said Hannah Kuper, Co-Director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
With this in mind it’s wonderful to know that this year, 200 pupils with disabilities attended RAP-CD’s primary school, which is supported by Accomplish, and 40 more pupils are enrolled in vocational training. The integrated secondary school we are developing has 100 pupils, 37 of whom have disabilities. (Unlike the primary school, the secondary school welcomes able-bodied students whose fees subsidize costs for students with disabilities. This policy meets Ugandan Government regulations to encourage integration.)
Accomplish has just started helping 83 deaf pupils in the Democratic Republic of Congo to access primary education.
We are contributing towards the salaries for two Ugandan physiotherapists and an occupational therapist, working across two rehabilitation centres. They conduct clinics covering a wide area, so all of the children with whom our Ugandan partners are working have access to good quality rehabilitation therapy.
Our partner organisations have been building links with other charities, including Motivation Africa which provides wheelchairs, and Smile Train which facilitates cleft lip surgery. My dream has always been for these organisations to grow wings and become more self-sustaining, and diversifying their sources of funding is part of that journey. The projects Accomplish has financed thanks to your support have enabled our partner organisations to grow and prove their credentials sufficiently to attract new backers.
Another huge encouragement over the years has been the opportunity for our trustees, supporters and friends to visit the projects in Uganda (at their own expense).
We also help families whose children have disabilities to earn a living. Our income-generating agricultural projects have been a huge success, allowing the beneficiaries to pay medical bills and school fees, and meet other expenses. Since 2015, your donations have enabled 20 families to start pig keeping and 23 families to grow crops. These families have given piglets to another 14 homes and seeds to allow another 13 families to start arable farming.
We now work with six partner organisations across three countries. Several of them are mainly funded by Accomplish and therefore wouldn’t be able to carry on without your help. So please may I thank all our volunteers for their hard work and all the charities, churches, organisations and people who support us.
So what about our plans for the future? We aim to complete the building work at St Agnes secondary school to enable children with disabilities near Kasese to finish their education locally in an affordable, caring and appropriate environment.
Thanks to the charity ROPE, our Treasurer Chris Acton is currently in Uganda, holding a conference with all four organizations with whom we collaborate there. They are already working more closely together, and Chris’ trip will be a great opportunity to encourage, share and to plan for the future.
Chris spent last week in Malawi visiting a centre for young people with severe disabilities, which we recently started supporting. This facility, established by Mbedza Projects Support, is still in its infancy but our vision is to see it grow and develop. Accomplish has provided goats and wood-burning stoves (which are far safer than cooking on open fires) for families, and we are exploring ways to get further involved.