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July 2019 report - Some background to the work of Africare
In looking at what is now at Acheru and what we can do to sustain the work and plan for the future, it may be worth reflecting on where we have come from. People may look at where we are now, the numbers treated, the extent of the work done, and view it as a 'success'. But look back and we can see that much of the work has its origins in failure, times when we could have been discouraged and given up rather than taking a positive view and learning from whatever had gone wrong to use the experience to try to improve.
Above all, looking back at the difficulties we've experienced lets me see how the work has been blessed. A willingness to go on in faith has brought us to where we are now and should help us in any difficulties we now face. Problems are always encountered in the day to day running of the work, and sometimes it's difficult to see the way ahead. Then we look at what we've previously had to deal with and this gives us a new perspective, making some issues seem relatively trivial or easily dealt with if we don't let ourselves be deterred. Most problems now relate to maintaining or developing the work rather than the possibility of total failure.
Africare, in the early 1980s, was a very small organisation which supported the work with orphans undertaken by the Kampala based Africa Foundation. There were problems with the relationship and uncertainty about how Africare should proceed. I had no formal involvement with Africare at that time, my work in Uganda was mainly medical, but I was asked for my opinion at what seemed a turning point. These were the dark days of the Obote regime in Uganda, and when we travelled we usually carried Christian literature to give out to soldiers at the frequent road blocks. I collected a quantity of Bibles and was surprised to find documents inside the boxes which verified my concerns about Africare continuing to work with Africa Foundation, and led to the ending of that relationship.
At that point Africare could have been wound up, but the orphans still needed help, Simeon Weihler who had worked with Africa Foundation wanted to continue his work, and Bishop Livingstone Nkyoyo proposed building a children's home at Mukono. A decision was taken to support this work and I soon took on much of the responsibility for fund raising to build Besaniya and sponsor the children. So from failure a new work grew and went on to take over much of my life.
Different strands of work developed with Besaniya, Evangelical Christian Ministries, medical equipment, and then Cherub. Then, once again, we were faced with failure. Much of the work was done in partnership with the Church of Uganda but there were strains in our relationship with the diocese and after a series of very difficult meetings we were unable to find a way forward and had to withdraw. This was devastating after so many years of work but whatever happened next God's name had been glorified through all that had already been done and we had no cause to question our original decision to develop the work.
I could have retired, but still felt an obligation to the children and the staff. Friends who felt the same offered their support and so Acheru was born. The recent 10th anniversary was a time to reflect on all that's been done and draw encouragement from it, putting in context whatever problems we now face and encouraging us to redouble our efforts to reach more children.
There have been some staff changes at Acheru, with the orthopaedic officer and physiotherapist both being replaced. This can be unsettling for the work but it was necessary and although I am disappointed when staffing problems arise I am encouraged to see them dealt with decisively. They did not anticipate any problems in finding replacements so there should be minimal disruption to the work, and I hope to have more news soon.
The latest news from Acheru is that Sam Opio, the boy with the tumour (Ossifying Fibroma), has undergone surgery (Partial Maxillectomy) and is recovering back at Acheru. I am impressed by the efforts of everyone involved in getting Sam the treatment he needed. You can imagine from the pictures below what this means for Sam. His surgery was on 28th May, and the second photo was taken on 20th June.



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