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Inspirational OT Starts Imprint Hope Foundation

Imprint Hope 1

About two weeks ago, I read an article about an occupational therapist who is starting up a foundation to help children with disabilities in Uganda. Her story is so inspiring. I contacted her and asked her a few questions about Imprint Hope.  There is a link to donate to Imprint Hope at the bottom of the post.  I just donated for her expenses – without her there none of this will get accomplished.  What an inspirational pediatric OT!

Here is the interview with Clare Byrne, OT –

Q:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you started Imprint Hope.
I founded Imprint Hope from a burning fire within my heart to bring help, HOPE and purpose to children with disabilities in Uganda, East Africa. I grew up alongside my sister, Kate, who has various physical and neurological impairments. Kate’s life has allowed me peak inside the complex soul of a person with a disability and see the valuable gifts every child with a disability has to leave on the world.
I always wondered what happened to children with disabilities in other countries. This probing question took me to Uganda in 2013. I spent a year there volunteering as an Occupational Therapist at an orphanage with over 500 children with disabilities. 
During my year in Uganda, my heart was moved to the core, how I witnessed children with disabilities rejected, abandoned, locked away in orphanages and seen as a curse in Ugandan society. This disparity made my heart so restless and empowered me to do something about it! 
Imprint Hope was then founded on a simple premise that every person in the world has been given a different fingerprint for a very specific purpose. Each one of us has different lines and jagged edges on each one of our fingers, which I believe is a testimony to the fact that we all have a unique set of gifts to “imprint” on the world. Children with disabilities are no exception.
Q:  Tell us more about Imprint Hope.
Imprint Hope is currently targeting a Ugandan village that has a high prevalence of children with disabilities. These are children with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Cerebral Malaria, Brachial Plexus Injuries, Hydrocephalus, joint dislocations, and swallowing disorders. 
We are trying to initially outreach to these children by providing education to caretakers on how to understand their child’s challenges, provide rehabilitation services in the home and supply wheelchairs/adaptive equipment to the children. 
Our hope and dream is to ultimately construct a rehabilitation clinic where children can receive Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and nursing services. We also hope to provide educational classes  on disabilities, so caretakers have a greater level of understanding on the origin of a disability and how they can help their child. 
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Q:  Do you provide all the OT services or do you have other therapists who help you?
I am currently the only Occupational Therapist on our team. Upon arriving in Uganda, I’m actively seeking to work with Ugandan Physical Therapist (PT) and Occupational Therapist (OT) who have a heart for helping children with disabilities. The level of training for OT’s, PT’s and medical professionals in Uganda is drastically different from America, so I hope to connect both worlds, so we can learn from each other.
I’m also actively trying to set-up a rotation of Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, Nurses and Doctors from Europe and America to come over to Uganda and help serve alongside us. Together we can help empower abundant life for these children.  If you can help provide a connection to set up other medical providers send an email to Clare @ Imprint Hope. com
Q:  Has it been difficult starting a non-profit organization?
Forming a non-profit organization has been a humbling learning experience of asking questions, seeking out the help of knowledgable professionals, problem solving and many sleepless nights of filling out IRS documentation. My motivation throughout this exciting and challenging journey has been vividly seeing the eyes of those children with disabilities lying in mud huts all day staring up at a roof with no access to medical care or rehabilitation services. Those children need a voice to fight for them and I want to be that voice of hope, understanding and love, whatever the personal sacrifice.
Q:  When you return to Uganda later this month, what is your top priority?
I’m moving back to Uganda on August 17th for an indefinite period of time to work in a village with a high prevalence of children with disabilities. Initially upon arrival, our initial goal is to establish a presence and rapport with the local people by traveling  in/out of their homes and providing the children with OT and PT services, medication, and wheelchairs/adaptive equipment. Establishing a connection with Ugandan medical professional will be vital throughout this whole process as well. This is an ingrained culture of disregarding children with disabilities, so its  it’s going to take time to make a sustainable presence and impact the community at large. 
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Ugandans watch foreigners with an eagle eye, so providing a patient, loving and compassionate example on “how” to hold, talk, feed, and handle these beautiful children will be essential.
Q:  Share your most favorite OT moment from Imprint Hope.  
My first week in Uganda I met Joseph, who is a persevering little 7-year old with Cerebral Palsy. Joseph had spent his life in a dormitory because he never received any therapy to help him manage his physical impairments. Joseph approached me one day and said ‘Sister, teach me how to walk, so I can go to school.’ 
In Uganda, children with disabilities need to be able to walk and be toilet trained to enter a classroom. 
Well after two months of Occupational Therapy, Joseph took his first step independently.  In four months time, he was navigating his environment with lofstrand crutches and standby physical assistance. Joseph is now navigating dynamic and incline surfaces independently and is going to school. Vividly remembering the look of joy in Joseph’s eyes at receiving this gift of functional mobility always brings tears to my eyes. 
Q:  What can we do to help?
Imprint Hope runs solely off the generosity and selfless virtue of others. At this time, Imprint Hope is in dire need of therapy supplies and financial assistance. 
A donation makes it possible to begin constructing Imprint Hope’s rehabilitation clinic. As well as for children with disabilities to receive rehabilitation services, (i..e therapy 2-3 times a week); for a child with a disability to sit up for the first time in a wheelchair; for families to be educated on how to feed, hold, and take care of their child and for all to learn the invaluable potential and beautiful purpose of every human soul. 
Thank you for joining this collaborative effort to help children with disabilities leave their beautiful “imprint” of joy on the world! 
Clare Byrne 
Founder Imprint Hope
Discover Potential. Foster Hope. Empower Purpose
WOW right?  Every time I read about Clare and her drive to help others it brings me to tears.  Think of all the children that you have worked with in your career and the amazing resources most of them have compared to these children.  Imagine if we did not have the educational system that we have in the United States to help children with disabilities to learn and thrive.  Breaks my heart to think that so many children are suffering but warms my heart to know that Clare, an occupational therapist, is doing her part to help change that!  Hoping my donation will help to support her new foundation and that the other therapists who read the blog will donate as well so we can help support her cause.  GO CLARE!