Dear Ponseti friend,
As STEPS starts a new year of supporting children born with clubfoot in southern and east Africa, I reflect on the past year of opportunities, successes and challenges. Every year of life is rich with experience, and running an NGO requires so much emotional input and hard work that it’s only really in the quiet moments when the clinics take a year end break that I have time to look back.
2016 was a year of fast growth for STEPS, we took on new patients, new recruits in three countries, new clinics, new donors, a new awareness campaign, and a whole new province in South Africa. We strategised, networked, and focused on our purpose to improve the lives of children born with clubfoot.
Having said that, our annual report will review what we have achieved in milestones (and there are many). I’d prefer to focus on people, who are the heart of STEPS, and why we are able to achieve so much with a small and dynamic team.
Funding and impact is critical for an NGO, and when we are focused on reaching as many beneficiaries as we can with the most efficient use of donations, while being innovative leaders in the region for clubfoot treatment, our volunteers are the people who make a huge difference to our efforts. I’ll share some of the volunteer stories for 2016, but there are many more who have contributed to STEPS this year, giving of their time to benefit our cause with legal advice, business consulting, graphic design, video production, and other skills. I am so grateful for your quiet and generous support, you know who you are.
Jacque came to us through a TV programme featuring my personal story and STEPS. She was so inspired and excited that she phoned the next day to offer her services. Jacque is an extremely positive person to have in the office, not to mention super stylish. She quietly comes up with ideas that nobody else has thought about to benefit our cause. Her commitment and drive has resulted in Clubfoot Awareness Day being added to the Department of Health calendar from 2017. This is an awesome achievement, many had tried, but only Jacque had the tenacity to keep on phoning to make sure that clubfoot awareness will be officially celebrated for the first time in South Africa on 3rd June 2017, which is also World Clubfoot Day. One person’s efforts made a national difference, which is so inspiring, thank you Jacque.
Anouk volunteers at the busiest clubfoot clinic in South Africa – and probably most of Africa – Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, in Soweto, Johannesburg. Anouk’s son was successfully treated for clubfoot and she contacted us to ask how she could be involved. My immediate response was, ‘Join the Bara team!’ Every week Anouk is there to support Ursula and Refilwe, our hard-working clinic coordinator and data capturer, with a warm smile and treats for the kids. The reward of seeing those scared families at their first appointment with a tiny baby in casts, to seeing the toddlers racing around the clinic during check-ups, makes Anouk’s work something that she can’t wait for every week. We are grateful for her generosity and humour, and in awe of the amazing trail running adventures that she shares. Watch out next for Anouk doing a fundraising trail run in some exotic location for STEPS.
Janine volunteers at the STEPS office as sustainability manager. During 2016 she has tirelessly driven our brace sourcing and distribution from into a growing programme that has already supplied countries like Madagascar, Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia with the vital clubfoot braces that help to prevent recurrence. Janine’s energy and enthusiasm has brought new ideas into our office and encouraged us to see things from another perspective which is refreshing and helped us to grow as an organisation. A huge thank you to Janine for your generosity, kindness, humour and passion. Your effort has impacted scores of lives already and there will be many more to come in 2017!