Circular - December 2013
Fiona: “I wanted to die because of the pain, I couldn’t walk, couldn’t take myself to the toilet, I had wounds which weren’t healing.” Fiona tried to poison herself, but was taken to hospital and from there to Acheru. “My condition had isolated me from others, but now my life has been transformed. I will always praise God for bringing me back to life. People at home are waiting to see me. I have been hospitalised for three years.”
Jemimah suffered very severe injuries in an accident. Her mother says: “It is now seven months since we have been at Acheru. I am seeing a miracle in my daughter, the leg healed after plastic surgery and the thigh bone that had been broken is now joined. I had never imagined that places like Acheru exist. I praise God because nobody expected my daughter to recover.”
Daisy. Born with deformed legs. Her father, a fisherman, drowned before she was born and her mother, who brought Daisy to Acheru, couldn’t stay with her because of other family problems. Without a carer, Daisy couldn’t stay at Acheru, but she was ‘adopted’ by the matron, Margaret, who says “I have seen a great improvement in Daisy’s life because at first we thought she wouldn’t walk. Now she follows me everywhere I go. God has done miracles.”
Catherine, age six, suffered from osteomyelitis. Her father says: “It started as a blister on her leg which we thought would heal, but it enlarged and she was in severe pain. People said she was bewitched and sent us to different witchdoctors, but the wound kept increasing in size. We went to five different hospitals for treatment, but it didn’t help. She was weak, couldn’t walk, and the bone was growing out of the flesh. Everybody lost hope, we thought she was going to die.”
Her father brought her to Acheru, she was referred to CoRSU on 12th Sept 2013 for surgery (sequestrectomy and external fixation) and underwent nutritional rehabilitation, before returning to Acheru on 23rd Sept where her recovery continues. “When I see a smile on my daughter’s face I feel happy too. I hadn’t known that Acheru, with such caring people, exists. I send my great thanks to all the people who have put in much effort to heal my daughter. We appreciate your love and care; may the Almighty God reward you and protect you always.”
Extracts from Acheru reports:
Kalungi Praise, age nine. Admitted to Acheru on 21.8.2012 with bilateral Blout’s disease (severe deformity of the legs). She had been treated at several hospitals in 2006 and 2007, then taken to a major Kampala hospital in 2008. She underwent surgery in 2009 and 2010 but the deformity persisted. At Acheru, she was referred for surgery and on 7th Dec had a bilateral osteotomy and external fixation. She then had extensive physiotherapy at Acheru and continued to improve. On 1st Feb 2013 the external fixators were removed and on 25th Feb ‘hardware removal post-corrective osteotomy’ was done. The deformity is physically corrected, and it’s now hard to believe she once had a deformity.
Owori Solomon, age 17. Hit by a car in Jan 2013, suffering a broken femur. Taken to a Kampala hospital, but self discharged after 5 days when told he still had to wait for all the other patients in the queue to be dealt with. He was then treated by traditional bone setters for three months, with his condition worsening. Brought to Acheru on 2md April with mal union of the fracture and infection setting in. With the infection controlled, he had surgery on 22nd May, and has since been having rehabilitation, with a range of care bringing steady improvement.
These are a small selection from so many for whom Acheru has been life changing. But there are still so many who need our help, and thanks to the generous support we’ve received we can now think about further work. A number of things are being considered, with all the work being reviewed by the Acheru staff and management committee as they work on proposals for us.
There is a need for an improved kitchen at Acheru. The present one is small, and there’s a problem with smoke. A separate kitchen block could enable the present kitchen and preparation area to be converted into a proper physiotherapy unit – treatment facilities are stretched due to the rise in patient numbers. We’re looking closely at how community work might develop. Harriet is responsible for Community Based Rehabilitation, and we now also have a social worker at Acheru and a CBR worker in the north. They encounter a lot of needs in the community and we’re looking at what help might be provided for disabled children and their families who live in poverty, possibly by designating a separate fund which can be used to provide appliances such as wheelchairs, special seats or whatever other help might be appropriate. This could be a significant development, as we can understand how difficult it is for our workers to encounter need and suffering and perhaps not be able to help.
We were saddened to hear of the death of the government District Health Officer of Oyam District in northern Uganda. He had worked very closely with Acheru as we became established in the north, opening doors and making introductions. He was very supportive of our work, arranging a lot of practical help, and he will be badly missed. We hope that his successor will also recognise the need for our work and can develop a good working relationship which will help us get into the more remote areas.
We’re coming to the end of another year which has exceeded all our expectations, and all of us involved with the work extend our sincere thanks to those of you who have made it all possible.
Brian Dorman

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