Six months ago, as the new Coronavirus pandemic began to spread globally on an unprecedented scale, our work at Ekisa took drastic turns. As all of our work at Ekisa is with children with disabilities, many of whom are vulnerable and have complex medical needs, we didn’t want to take any chances. Our school program and our therapy outreaches were paused. Our residential home to 16 children went into lockdown. Everything changed. As I left Ekisa and watched the gate close, I had no idea when it might open again.
As each week passed the uncertainty did not. In fact, I have to say I cannot remember a time with more uncertainty in my life. Maybe you can relate. Decisions were, and continue to be, very hard to make as information, and opinions, and estimations all seem to have their own… well…uncertainty.
Each week, new ideas were brought up by our team on what we could be doing and what was happening in the homes of the families we serve as government restrictions began to financially affect families in unprecedented ways. Thankfully, we found ways to provide needed help to the children we serve and their families, meeting immediate needs as well as finding new and safe ways to provide services. We have continued to find ways to provide services to these children as the months have gone on. Even more amazing was the response from you. Our donors stepped up in ways that we could never have expected, providing the funds for extra medical coverage, food subsidies, and other new costs we had to incur as our work and programs changed.
Just this week, I was told by our social work team, as they have been resuming home visits which have been on hold for months, that the children on our programs are doing very well, and better than they expected. Children with disabilities are often the first to suffer when times are tough, but that is not what they found. Our efforts of providing food subsidies when they were needed, medications and prescriptions, home therapy visits, and homeschooling materials have enabled the children on our program to thrive. And for that, I want to say thank you for making it happen through your support of Ekisa.
Beyond finding new ways to serve the children on our programs, we have used these last months not to sit back, but to ramp up. Time and resources have been shifted to help us accomplish our goals of replication. Our new training and equipping department (one of the four goals of our Next Chapter campaign) has gotten started. The department will help equip practitioners around the world to better work with children with disabilities and many amazing resources will be coming out before the end of the year. Our teachers at Ekisa Academy have been doing hours of training and continuing education to better equip themselves as they teach at Ekisa Academy next year, but also so that they might eventually be sent out to start special education classrooms in schools throughout Uganda. The work to launch our new Community Care Center, which will bring another 60 children and families onto our program, has been able to resume and we have the government approval in that city to begin.
We are beyond excited for these new efforts to grow, and we are beyond thankful for your support in making everything that is happening at Ekisa possible.