Circular - December 2014
We are coming to the end of another year and it’s a good time to look back at what has been achieved. By most standards it has been a ‘successful’ year, based on numbers of children treated and outcomes. More children than ever have had their lives transformed, moving from suffering to hope, starting to realise their potential – and of course we see change not only for the children but for their families. Whatever we do there to maintain a Christian witness depends heavily on the effectiveness of the treatment and care we provide, and how this is perceived by those around us. Rather than just depending on words, we give them clear evidence of change, and this speaks very clearly in a culture where many people still have some allegiance to or fear of witchcraft – but the witch doctors couldn’t heal these children.
All this couldn’t have been done without your continuing support as donors; so many of you have remained faithful to this work through years of change, when we sought to ensure that we reached those children whose need was greatest and tried to maintain high standards of leadership and accountability so that the work wouldn’t be compromised.
Then there are those who carry out the work; all the money we have spent would have been to little purpose without our Acheru staff. Central to the effectiveness of the work is Africare’s relationship with the Acheru Board and staff. We have delegated running of the work to them, and we try to conduct this in a relationship of cooperation and encouragement rather than domination and control. We as Africare require a high standard of accountability but we must also trust the judgment of the Acheru Board and the skills of the staff, so that our efforts combine to maximum effect.
Accountability means more than just looking at the figures, so there are times when monitoring or evaluation are appropriate. Earlier in the year two of our Board members, Solomon and Laura, visited Acheru representing Africare and looked closely at the work. Overall impressions were positive, but some issues were raised which we have tried to address. This meant criticism where we saw weaknesses, but we have to ensure that encouragement is given too – the work is carried out against a difficult background, and there will always be compromises enforced by limitations of finance, equipment, staffing, or facilities.
I hope the reports and updates on the website, which we want to improve and develop, will give you some idea of the work of the staff, but I think there are a few things worth mentioning here. Joyce recently suffered extensive burns following an accident with a pressure cooker, but is now well on the way to a full recovery. Sam has been ill, with tests indicating appendicitis – but surgery had been deferred for now, and while he seems fit at present he will have further examinations in a couple of months.
There can be many problems to contend with, and sadly we must always be aware that some people will go to great lengths to try to get money from us. We do all we can to prevent this, and thankfully we have avoided the serious problems and losses incurred by some other organisations. However, despite our vigilance, in this digital age we can be targetted by increasingly sophisticated attacks. We sometimes include sums of money with our bank transfers and ask for them to be passed on to certain individuals, and recently some of our emails dealing with finance have been intercepted. Additional instructions have been added to them before they have been forwarded, and this has resulted in some money being transferred to bank accounts operated by the fraudsters. Thankfully this was discovered before much was lost – nevertheless, the loss of any money is a setback, and there is the very serious concern that a system which we thought was safe has turned out to be so vulnerable. Sam is working with the police in Uganda, and they are hopeful of tracking down the perpetrators. We are also looking carefully at all our systems to try to minimise risk.
Acheru continues to see many children from northern Uganda, and we had hoped by now to have an eight bed hostel at Anyike to reduce pressure on inpatient beds at Kabembe, but we have had to review this. The building we had been offered wasn’t in an ideal location, but it could have been equipped cheaply and quickly so the compromise seemed worthwhile. Now, however, the cost estimates have increased considerably as people who at first seemed to want to help us now want to make money from the venture. We hope this won’t be too much of a setback, we have already arranged that we can pay to have children kept at CoRSU if Acheru is full. They give us very favourable rates, so while it would have been convenient to have more accommodation in the north, we will try to ensure no children lose out on the chance of treatment.
We have been busy here too, trying to provide effective back up for the work in Uganda. We have had to deal with changes in legislation which require us to register with the Charity Commission, and it’s a relief that this process has been completed before the deadline and we have our registration. We are also looking at our Acheru and Africare literature, recognising that some of it is now rather out of date and we could be doing better in terms of promoting the work, and keeping people informed.
There is no room for complacency; there are problems to address, more work to do, ideas and proposals to consider. We hope to have an evaluation of Acheru early in the New Year, concentrating on care and treatment, how we can improve, and what more we can do to encourage the staff and listen to their concerns and their vision for the work. We have seen such growth and blessing that we feel compelled to do all we can to sustain it. Above all, we must remain focussed on the needs of the children, with the images of those successfully treated making us more determined than ever to reach all those who still so desperately need our help. We continue to ask the question ‘what will happen to these children if we don’t find them and help them?’
Looking back over the last year enables us to face next year with renewed enthusiasm and confidence. A heartfelt thank you to all who have helped us, on behalf of children who otherwise were without hope.
Brian Dorman

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  Africare is a registered charity, HMRC Charity No – XN 76448
NI Charity Registration No – NIC101141