I set up the trust in 2008, because it felt
like it was the next thing God was asking me to do. I was 27.
I grew up as the middle of three daughters in a very
loving, happy family. My parents were and are always
incredibly encouraging and supportive of all of us. We moved around
the country a few times owing to my dad's job as a vicar, and I've
moved quite a lot since.
My parents worked in Zambia before having
children; so we were brought up with stories about their
time in Africa. Then, while I was studying physiotherapy, at the
end of my second year I went out to Uganda for four weeks to help
renovate a Bible training college. As a team, we supported the work
of renovating the buildings, but couldn't bring any skills to the
job. I felt if I ever went back to Africa, it would be as a physio
with some skill to offer.
I wrote in our graduation year-book that I hoped to work
in Africa one day; but I don't know whether I necessarily
thought that would be real. Then, as I finished my two-year
rotation as a junior physiotherapist, I thought that this might be
the right time to go. With my church's support, I was accepted to
go to Uganda with Africa Inland Mission to work in a rural hospital
for three years. I went to All Nations' Bible College for ten
weeks, which was a great preparation time.
In Uganda, I had the privilege of needing to rely on God
more, for my own needs and those of others around me. I
saw, time and time again, God meet those needs, and it helped to
build up the trust I needed to rely on God's provision for
Accomplish works mainly in Kasese, south-west
Uganda, on the border with the Congo, but we are open to work in
other areas of Africa. We've got three objectives: to advance
education for disabled children and their families; to enable
medical relief and treatment for disabilities affecting children
and young families; and to give a Christian response to children
and young people with disabilities and their families in any part
I wanted to set the charity to support the work
of two organisations in Kasese. Both had been set up by Ugandan
Biira Agnes founded SADICH (Save the Disabled Child's
Home) because she recognised the difficulty of bringing up
a child with disabilities: fighting negative attitudes, and the
financial implications of providing for the increased health and
educational needs of the child.
Maali Wilson founded RAPCD (Rwenzori Association of
Parents of Children with Disabilities) because his eldest
son, Khembo, was born with cerebral palsy. He and his wife were
proactive in seeking medical health, and could see their son being
able to walk and attend school: he is very good with a computer.
Other people in the community were amazed at what Khembo was able
to achieve. Maali realised that many people didn't know what was
available to help children with disabilities, or the potential that
these children had.
I worked from 2005 to 2008 as a physiotherapist in
Kagando hospital in Kasese, where I also recognised the
huge need there was to treat children with disabilities in the
community. Towards the end of my time in Uganda, I was introduced
to both SADICH and RAPCD, and was impressed with their vision and
the work they were doing on so little. I secured some funding to
get land, and carpentry and tailoring tools to set up vocational
training for people with disabilities. When I came home, I set up
Accomplish with the vision of enabling children with disabilities
to achieve their potential. All the trustees, bar one who is now
retired, have full-time jobs, and work for Accomplish in their
spare time. I work as a physiotherapist.
Certainly, I'm not a businessperson, and there
are so many other great charities out there. I don't think I would
have wanted to set up another charity if I didn't believe it was
what God was asking us to do. Accomplish is still a relatively
young charity - six years old - but it has accomplished much more
than I'd believed when we first started.
This is due to two things. One is that what we
are doing is under God's blessing. In the first year, I was
worrying about finance, and making plans about how we could meet
the requests we were getting. I was praying about it during Soul
Survivor, and felt God saying to me: "This is not your project,
it's mine. Look back at how I've provided over the past year. Look
back over the previous years, and see how I've provided. Trust
The second reason is that we believe in smaller
organisations on the ground, enabling them to carry out
their vision for the needs they see around them. We give a little
guidance, and fund the projects, but they do all the hard work.
I love the way God works. We are only part of
the picture, and God's picture is so much bigger. For example, the
main focus of our support for RAPCD has been to fund a school for
primary children with hearing or visual impairments. The community
now use this facility every week to hold a church service. At these
services, the teachers translate into sign language; so the kids
get to hear the gospel. The children are also going to other
churches to perform songs, and read the Bible in Braille. The
congregation is amazed at what these children are able to do, and
this is changing attitudes more widely.
Discrimination in Uganda is just different.
People believe disabled children won't have the intelligence to
learn, and, if someone has epilepsy, they are often thought to be
cursed - so much so that sometimes other people will avoid the
village for fear.
When I was out there, I knew a lady who was in
charge of education for disabled children, and she thought disabled
girls there were particularly vulnerable to men. Girls and women
are certainly not ranked as high as men. I think the prejudices
that all disabled children face outweigh any other problems, in my
own experience. The hardest thing has been working
One example is Evelyn, who became deaf at six
years old. Her mum worked hard to ensure Evelyn was educated,
though the rest of the community laughed at her, and asked her why
was she bothering, as her child was worthless. When we met, after
having just started to sponsor her, her mum gave us a huge hug and
thanked us for caring. She said it meant so much to have other
people value and believe in her child, to know that she wasn't
alone in caring for her child.
When we met Luca, she thanked us for sponsoring
her. Her school fees were so expensive because she was deaf that
her father had to choose between sending her or the rest of her
siblings to school. He couldn't afford to do both. Sponsoring her
means that she and her siblings are now able to be
Barnabas was born with spina bifida. His
parents thought that his physical disabilities also meant that he
was unable to study. This, coupled with his incontinence, meant
that he'd never attended school. After SADICH counselled his
parents, 14-year-old Barnabas attended school for the first time.
He was so clever that they moved him up three classes, much to the
excitement of his parents. SADICH provided this family with a pig,
and the income from selling piglets enables them to buy Barnabas
incontinence pads so he can attend school without
Since returning to the UK from Uganda, I have
met my husband, Edd, and we've been happily married for
two-and-a-half years. My family and friends have been the biggest
influences in my life.
When I was a child, my favourite sound would be
hearing my parents' voices or listening to mum play the piano at
night while I was going to sleep. It's probably still family
voices, or worship songs.
There's so many places I'd love to
visit, I wouldn't know where to start. Anywhere
that's not a big city. I like cycling, walking, being out in the
countryside, sewing, and reading.
I love reading Christian autobiographies. I
find them inspiring, and moving, and it's exciting to see how God
works: books like Ten Fingers for God, which is about the
revolutionary work Paul Brand did with leprosy patients in
I pray for Accomplish: for wisdom in how we
communicate and work cross-culturally, and the decisions we make on
what to finance. And I tend to pray for friends and family,
situations I'm going through, and patients I'm treating.
I've never had any particular desire to meet anyone
famous. I'd probably choose to be locked in a church with
my dad, as he's wise and funny. Or one of my old prayer-partners. I
haven't had a regular prayer-partner for a few years, and I miss
it. I love the stillness of praying together and being in God's
Rebecca Cornish was talking to Terence Handley