Africares secretary, writes:
always tried to be objective about what we are doing in Uganda,
as it can be all too easy to let enthusiasm override judgment.
With this in mind, we are always glad of expert views on what were
doing. Una Brownlie, an immensely experienced medical
missionary, and her sister Phyllis Campbell, a doctor, went to
Acheru in January, not simply to look at the work for Africare,
but to carry out a full evaluation, reporting to the Acheru
Board. They looked at all aspects of the work, travelled to the
north, went on community visits, and had one to one interviews
with staff and workers. They then met with the Acheru Board to
discuss their findings and recommendations.
Acheru is the responsibility of the local Board and Management
Committee, and Una and Phyllis discussed some weaknesses with
them which are now being addressed by increasing the staff
representation on an Executive Committee. The Acheru Board were
in agreement with their comments and conclusions, and the report
was then sent to us. We have now discussed this at a Board
meeting at which Una and Phyllis went through their report,
answered questions, and gave us a valuable insight into the work
and the individuals involved.
their report, there are issues which need to be dealt with by
Acheru staff and management, but also issues for Africare. We
didnt want to react too quickly, but have tried to gather
additional information before having another Board meeting at
which we can discuss proposals. We all want to do our utmost to
support the work at Acheru, and the report seems an excellent
basis for resolving problems, making improvements, and preparing
for the future.
changed a lot in the short time since it opened. In developing a
Christian witness through the work it had been the aim that
Acheru maintain a Christian family atmosphere, but Una and
Phyllis saw that, with 37 inpatient beds, Acheru was now more
institutionalised, and could no longer function as a family.
We know that the staff hold to the original aims of the work,
and we will be looking at this closely to ensure that what is
done at Acheru continues to go beyond the physical needs of the
encouragements and challenges from the report and it will take
time to deal with it all. We were reassured on our two major
concerns about the work, firstly relating to clinical standards
against a background of increased numbers and restricted
budgets. We were told that all staff were giving 100% commitment
and that standards of treatment and care remained high
whatever else we do at Acheru will be to little effect if people
dont have confidence in the care we provide. We will now
be doing our utmost to ensure standards are maintained and we
will also be looking for ways to improve.
concern was something which had worried us for some time. Acheru
was established as a rehabilitation unit for disabled children
with a broad view of disability including cases resulting from
untreated injuries or neglect. We made clear that we didnt
want Acheru to be seen as an alternative to health centres or
hospitals, we wanted to treat the children no one else could
deal with. Una and Phyllis confirmed this is still the case, but
it also raised a major challenge.
background of increasing costs, it might have been comfortable
to defer any thoughts of further growth, as Acheru is already
much bigger than we had ever planned, and we are certainly
spending much more than we had envisaged. But the report made
clear that for many children Acheru is their only hope. If we
dont help them, nobody else will, so can we really ignore
their needs? This applies particularly in the north. We had
intended work there to be an extra, perhaps short
term to get things kick started in the hope others would take
over. This hasnt happened, and the small Acheru team made
a big impression on Una and Phyllis, who saw the potential and
confirmed no one else was helping there.
lists are full, so sadly any new surgical referrals must go on a
waiting list, but the report was clear about the potential to
develop outpatient and community work. This is what we are now
focusing on; Una and Phyllis were impressed by what was being
done, but also saw the limitations. Of course there are
financial implications in all of this, but every time we have
increased the numbers helped, the money has been available.
Despite my concerns, we have never had to turn away a child
because of lack of funds.
seeing the rising costs and hearing of the impact of the
recession, some of the Acheru staff had feared for their jobs.
We have tried to reassure them that there is no threat. We value
the work of all of them and want now to develop a three year
plan with a guaranteed budget which will give them some degree
of security. That budget will be for the core work
but as we consider the report we will also look very carefully
at any additional work or improvements.
presently looking at possibilities for a pumped water supply
from a borehole to facilitate the work at Acheru, and also what
can be done to support community work, and how more help might
be given to families of disabled children who may be suffering
severe deprivation. The north is also a big concern given the
significance of the work there.
|We have a lot
to think about, and value your continuing support and prayers as
we try to make decisions.