Founder, Chairwoman & Fundraiser
"I first went to Kumi Hospital in Uganda in September 2002 following my redundancy after working as a physiotherapist at St John of God Hospital, Scorton, for nearly forty years. Over the years and twenty eight visits later, my input has progressed into the Kumi Community Foundation, a registered charity, which has changed my life. I started by treating a few children with disabilities in the hospital rehab department and gradually, we developed a programme based in the rural community for families living in extreme poverty and with disabilities and/or malnourishment."
"It was wonderful to be in Kumi with Elspeth. I was able to see at first hand how she 'helps people to help themselves' "
"My parents met and married in Nairobi, Kenya and so Africa has always been a real place to me, though admittedly a faraway place! I always wanted to visit Africa, but as I grew up and learned about the many ways in which life can be so hard for people there, I knew that I would prefer to visit as some kind of helper and not as a tourist.
Many years were to pass before that opportunity came. A very dear friend of mine, Marjorie, was secretary of a wonderful charity called Interplast UK. This charity provides life-changing plastic surgery, free of charge to those in need in developing countries. Marjorie shared with her friends and church all about her visits to different countries with the founder, Mr Charles Viva, and his teams of volunteers and we, in turn, did our best to support the work through raising funds and sending gifts, particularly for the children. Sadly , Marjorie died suddenly in 2014 and when Mr Viva asked me to take on the role of secretary, I didn’t hesitate. I served in that role for 5 years and had the privilege of visiting Kumi twice in that time, carrying out the role of visit co-ordinator and, in particular, spending time with children doing crafts and playing games.
During both visits, we worked closely with Elspeth and her team, who identified possible patients for surgery, ensured that they were able to travel to the hospital and supported them in many other ways. It was wonderful to be in Kumi with Elspeth. I was able to see at first hand how she “helps people to help themselves” by providing aids to mobility, supporting students with disabilities into education, income generating projects and much more. Working so closely with the team ’on the ground’ (Ruth and Harriet) means that Kumi Community Foundation are able provides what is really needed. As I got to know Elspeth and the breadth of her work, I once suggested that she would benefit from becoming a registered charity. Clearly, Elspeth didn’t forget that comment and asked if I would help to achieve this. Of course, I was delighted to be asked and am once again in the role of secretary and working with a fabulous group of fellow Trustees. My role is mainly administration and communication (if you email firstname.lastname@example.org you will get me!) and I do my best to raise funds – my knitting needles are red hot so if you want a cosy cushion, a warm hat or baby clothes you know where to get them!"
"I became involved with Kumi after visiting there as a volunteer therapist with Wheels for the World. It was the first time they had been to Kumi and my first trip to Africa. I met Elspeth who was our host and who had applied for us to work with Kumi Community Foundation. I was inspired by her work and life commitment to helping the people there. I admired her determination and spirit and all that she was achieving with the people there.
Since that first trip I’ve returned to Africa with Wheels for the World several times but my mind always returned to Kumi and the work of KCF. Remarkably I found out that Elspeth, who I met for the first time in Kumi, Uganda lived only minutes from where I lived. I found out that she wanted people to help her move forward to fully register as a charity and I felt honoured to be part of this and agreed to work as a treasurer.
I returned to Kumi again this year in February and met again familiar faces. I just love Kumi and the people there are always so kind and welcoming. I went as team leader this time for Wheels for the World with a group of 11 people , consisting of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, technicians admin and pastoral workers on the team from the UK and Kenya. This time I was wearing two hats one as team leader for the Wheels for the World team and in my capacity as trustee for Kumi Community Foundation.
Once you have been there and met the people and been able to help in even a small way it gets into your heart. I hope that people will follow the work that this charity does and support us."
"I just love Kumi and the people there are always so kind and welcoming."
Team Leader - Uganda
Harriet graduated from Mbale Islamic University
in Social Work. She is married to Henry and has a two little boys called Robinson and Carl.
Harriet helps to continue the work of KCF while the UK team return back home to fundraise.
Outreach Worker - Uganda
Ruth trained in community
based rehabilitation and lives in Soriti with her son, Chris.
Ruth continues to identify and signpost individuals that would benefit from the work of KCF. Along with Harriet, Ruth is a fundamental part of ensuring KCF can provide support all year round.
"Circumstances of families in the community are very basic, and at times heart wrenching but ... we remain objective and focus on what can be achieved for individuals and families"
"I first became involved with KCF after meeting Elspeth at our local Nordic walking group. I was a Soroptimist at the time as is Elspeth so we had common ground but it was about a year after we first met she told me of her passion for Kumi and it's community. She's very modest about her achievments!
I'd been on a few trips to different African nations but never Uganda. Think I must have passed since sort of test as she asked me to join her and Lynne on a visit. I was blown away by what I saw. It was so different to other projects I'd been involved with.
Money raised is targeted and well spent, small amounts making so much difference. Circumstances of families in the community are very basic, and at times heart wrenching but on a visit somehow we remain objective and focus on what can be achieved for individuals and families. Our team in Kumi are quite incredible, working tirelessly to improve the lives of the community they are part of."
"I first met Elspeth at Able Day Service which is an activity centre for adults with physical and learning disabilities. Elspeth has volunteered at Able for many years.
During one of her visits she asked me if I would like to join her in Uganda and do some volunteering with the charity. I was surprised and delighted to be asked.
I have been to Kumi four times and I am completely captivated by Uganda and its people, particularly the people of Kumi District. Kumi covers a vast area and many people live in very remote areas. Most villages don't have electricity and water usually has to be carried for miles from water pumps. Poverty and malnutrition is a major problem and midwifery care is limited.
Life is challenging enough for the people of Kumi but for those with disabilities it is particularly difficult. There are very many children and adults with disabilities who have no access to the support they need.
I have been lucky enough to see first hand the amazing work that Elspeth does in Kumi. She ensure that all of the the money raised from donations goes exactly where it needs to go. Community based rehabilitation is at the heart of the charity and the money is used wisely to buy wheelchairs. tricycles, specialist corner chairs, prosthetic limbs, and many, many other essential items.
I have huge admiration for Elspeth and the tireless work she does for the people of Kumi."
"Life is challenging enough for the people of Kumi but for those with disabilities it is particularly difficult. There are very many children and adults with disabilities who have no access to the support they need."
I first became aware of the KCF when my good friend Lynne Mosher visited Kumi with Wheels for the World about 3 years ago. I followed her journey and was so impressed by the amazing work that her team were doing in Uganda that when I had the opportunity to go to Kumi myself in February 2020 I jumped at the chance.
I had never been to Africa before but I instantly fell in love with the people of Uganda - I definitely left a piece of my heart in Kumi!!! I was blown away by the work that Elspeth and the KCF were doing to support disabled adults and children in Kumi and was lucky enough to go out with Elspeth and Harriet on a community visit. This really brought home the importance of their outreach work in rural Uganda and the desperate need of the people for medical assistance and support.
"I definitely left a piece of my heart in Kumi!!!"