January 2022 report: Christmas at Acheru, and a possible extension to the work
It's been another difficult Christmas for Acheru. It should be the high point of their year, a holiday as well as celebrations and parties for children, families, and community and a staff outing to round off their year. All this has been disrupted by Covid but they've had to make the most of the situation and try to maintain some degree of normality. The staff were still able to have an outing, but stayed much closer to home than in previous years. The parties, which have become such an important part of Acheru's witness and the promotion of the work, were of necessity on a much smaller scale.

Christmas party

Cake cutting at Christmas party

Families receiving gifts at Christmas party

Staff Christmas outing

Staff Christmas outing

Staff receiving Christmas gifts
The work in northern Uganda, through our base at Minakulu, has been an established part of Acheru's outreach for some years now. It is small scale in terms of numbers but there is a steady flow of children either being treated there or referred to Kabembe. When a full Acheru team makes regular visits there from Kabembe, a large area can be covered by rural clinics providing instruction, assessment, treatment, and referral for more serious conditions. Central to this is cooperation with other services in the area and in particular partnership with the government health centre beside our Minakulu unit, as sharing expertise and experience is so much more efficient than trying to duplicate services.
It's our wish to see Acheru reaching as many children as possible, and rural clinics are a vital part of this. However, Acheru depends on people local to the target area to arrange these and there can be misunderstandings and communication problems. Now a new opportunity for partnership has arisen with a medical centre in the south west of the country, and we've been looking at the facilities available there. While not a major hospital, it is well staffed, serves a wide area, and is keen to develop. We are now looking at how a partnership could help us to offer treatment to more children. They already have the capability to either treat or refer disabled children, but this can only happen if the children are brought to them. A link with Acheru could perhaps enable a team to go there from Kabembe to arrange community visits, raise awareness, and locate children in need of treatment. Cases which couldn't be dealt with at the centre could be brought back to Acheru and referred to Corsu if surgery was required, and there would be the option of taking them back to the centre for ongoing treatment or follow up much closer to their homes. Such an arrangement would benefit the centre and Acheru, and most of all the children who might not otherwise be helped.
A wide range of medical services operate in Uganda, with the whole country heavily dependent on the charitable sector, and people can be served more effectively if different organisations can work in cooperation. It has always been the aim of Acheru to reach children who are unlikely to otherwise receive medical care and treatment, and this can best be achieved if our services are known to, and can accept referrals from, other organisations. This works both ways, with Acheru able to refer children to specialists for the most appropriate treatment. There is good cooperation throughout the medical sector, and Acheru was recently able to host the annual meeting of CRANE (Children at Risk Action Network). It was an opportunity to show what Acheru can do, and those previously unaware of our work were impressed.

CRANE AGM at Acheru

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