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Circular - March 2015
A new year has arrived and the work of Africare continues with fresh determination. Those of us with responsibility for Africare are not medical, and started work with disabled children in Uganda without any relevant experience, but we had seen the need and wanted to respond.  I believe all the work of Cherub, and now of Acheru, shows we were right to follow that course.  Blessing resulted, and many lives have been transformed.  However, any perception of ‘success’ shouldn’t make us complacent, there is always room for improvement.  From time to time we have valued the observations of medical professionals, and have on several occasions had someone conduct a full evaluation of the work.  We also had an encouraging endorsement from a visiting professor at Uganda Christian University who told us that Acheru was the nearest he had seen to an expression of Christ’s love on earth.
Recently, two of our Board members spent several weeks at Acheru meeting with the staff and looking at all aspects of the work.  Arising from this, we’ve been working with Acheru to address some issues, particularly relating to management.  This has been a useful process, as although we have handed over responsibility for running Acheru to the local staff and Board, we must be able to reassure donors about how their money is spent, and that the aims of the work continue to be met.
While dealing with management and other matters, we felt it was time for a full medical evaluation of the work; this was discussed at length with Acheru so that everyone understood the purpose of this was not to spy on people, but to work with them to find ways to maintain high standards of care, ensure we were reaching the children who need us, and identify areas where improvements can be made or help is needed.
The person tasked with this evaluation was Una Brownlie who, with her late husband Donald, served for many years in Malawi, as well as working in Uganda at Mengo and Kiwoko hospitals.  Her sister Phyllis, a GP, agreed to accompany her.  The criteria for the evaluation were agreed with the Acheru staff, and they reported to the Acheru Board.
Over all they found that the work at Acheru was continuing to thrive and they were impressed by the commitment of staff and the quality of care given. Of course they encountered some challenges. As the work has expanded there is a need to create a wider management base to spread the workload more fairly. As a result a new management structure was suggested to the Acheru Board and they have been responsive to this.
The Board were encouraged by the report and will endeavour to work with Acheru staff to deal with any issues raised. Africare will also support the staff at Acheru in order to assist with their continued improvement.
Work in the north of Uganda at the centre in Minakulu is also continuing to grow. The staff there are still highly committed and enthusiastic about the work despite the somewhat primitive working and living conditions they experience. For example they have no water supply, power or easy access to means of communication. The staff there consists of an orthopaedic clinical officer, a physiotherapist and a part time CBR worker. They have an excellent working relationship and work very closely as a unit as they utilise each other’s skills to the maximum.
They have managed to develop very strong links with the local village health team who work alongside the Minakulu CBR worker to sensitise the surrounding villages to the work carried out at the centre. This has also assisted greatly with locating children in considerable need who have not been able to travel to the centre for help. They continue to hold outreach clinics twice weekly to meet the need in the area and links with the union of disability in Gulu has proved helpful.
Brian and Hazel have been enjoying a well deserved break in South Africa and they shall return at the end of March. If you need to contact them while they are away, you can do so via the Africare email address.
We would also like to take this opportunity once again to thank you for your continued support of Africare. We do not simply mean financially, but also for your prayerful support. We have been undoubtedly blessed by the growth and expansion of the work both at Acheru and Minakulu and the dedication of the staff at both centres. The vast number of children who are having their lives transformed is truly remarkable.
The Africare Board

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