Circular - September 2014
When planning Acheru, we had to consider the most suitable location. By staying in the Mukono area we continued to serve the catchment area we had dealt with when Cherub was based at Besaniya – although almost from the start children have been brought from far beyond the immediate area, and even from adjoining countries as the reputation of the work spread. We also needed access to surgical services, with CoRSU serving as our referral centre for orthopaedic and plastic surgery. It’s all a compromise, with CoRSU advising on location, and taking into account cost and availability of land. Unfortunately although we are not far from CoRSU, they are near Entebbe meaning we have to travel through Kampala to get there – and traffic conditions mean it’s a nightmare journey, needing to be undertaken several times each week. Hours of fumes and dust for a relatively short journey.
Despite this, it does seem that we have found the right site at Kabembe, but of course we’re a long way from northern Uganda, which has become the focus for much of our work. In the north we are based at Minakulu, 42km south of Gulu, with local staff and a small outpatient unit. We’ve avoided trying to replicate Acheru in the north, as surgical patients still need to be brought to CoRSU, although we are considering a compromise with ‘hostel’ accommodation to enable children for whom distance is a problem to stay for what would normally be outpatient treatment.
Northern Uganda covers a huge area up to Southern Sudan and we cannot hope to cover it all – but our catchment area is growing. From Minakulu our staff operate clinics which cover much of Oyam district – at Anyike, 17km to the south east, Zambia 22km SW, Apac 75km S, and Otwal 52km NE. This helps us to cover an area of around 3000 square kilometres – although we depend on local health services, churches and others to bring children to the clinics. There is a problem with locating disabled children, persuading families to bring them for treatment, and also ensuring they are brought back if booked for surgery. Meetings are under way with other organisations with workers in the community who might be able to help if we cover the expenses – much more cost effective than trying to employ more community workers ourselves.
Acheru has been treating an increasing number of children but there must be so many more who could benefit from our help. We are already doing much more than we could ever have envisaged when the work was started, but there has been so much blessing, and donors have responded so generously. It does now seem though that all the Acheru services at Kabembe and in the north are working to capacity, and resources are stretched – staff, facilities, and finances. We are keeping everything under review; there are always problems to face, but we want to maintain standards of care, having seen the life changing effect for children, their families, and communities.
Brian Dorman

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