Annual Partners Meeting, Kenya 15-19th October 2012.

In October 2012 AbleChildAfrica hosted our Partners meeting, with representatives from across all 5 of our Partner organisations, for the first time in nearly 3 years. Having been through a tempestuous few years, having faced some economic and capacity challenges, it felt like a huge achievement to be looking out at a room full of 17 of the most senior representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the UK who were all full of excitement and anticipation to learn from one another over the next week. It was also slightly nerve-racking!! They were all looking at me!! Gulp.

2012 has been a rather ‘extraordinary’ year for AbleChildAfrica and the Partners meeting was an opportunity for us to share in our successes, learn more from one another and reflect on what we can do over the next few years as a group to improve the lives of disabled children in Africa…

Little Rock’s new bigger and better centre was nearing completion, in addition to increased capacity and modern accessible facilities, the new centre would also mean that children would no longer have to walk the streets of Kibera to access the currently 4 different rented buildings and would offer a truly ground-breaking facility for disabled and non-disabled children in one of Africa’s largest slums. Representatives from AbleChildAfrica and ANDY had carried the Paralympic Torch in London in August and their Director, Fred Ouko, had received an honorary Ashoka fellowship, a group of social entrepreneurs who are recognised for having innovative solutions to social problems and influence change in patterns across society in more than 70 countries, and Fred now represents Kenya- a huge honour. Child Support Tanzania has gone through a period of growth and has invested in a new income generation project, Appropriate Paper Based Technology, making sustainable and low resource materials that are appropriate for children with physical disabilities and are now drafting their new strategic plan, all of which was adding to the sustainability of their programmes. USDC, our oldest and longest partnership, had just begun implementing a new project to bring vital health services to disabled children in the West Nile region of Uganda, an area blighted by conflict and poverty. And that just a few of the achievements I could think of as I looked around the room! All of our partners had had successes but that wasn’t enough, they wanted to do more and that’s why they were here.

During the week we covered areas of work set out as priorities by our partners which included; good governance, finance, fundraising and strategic planning. None of this sounds like topics to get excited about I know, but this is the kind of vital work AbleChildAfrica does with our partners to make sure they are working in a sustainable way, so that they can be self-sufficient and independent organisations. That is what makes AbleChildAfrica unique, we believe in empowering our partner organisations in Africa and putting all of our time and resource into making African lead organisations successful.

By the end of the week we had sung songs, danced like chickens, learnt new languages….and that was just the ice breakers. Everyone felt energised and excited to get back to their offices and they all left inspired, having taken new ideas and skills from one another. I personally felt that the Partner’s Meeting showed us why AbleChildAfrica exist, to support, facilitate and encourage learning amongst our partners and it was great to have been part of it.

Katy Bodkin, Programme Officer, AbleChildAfrica

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