Moving from Single Project Success to Transformative, Systemic Change

by Rebecca Heidorn


This week I had the opportunity to travel to Ridgecrest, North Carolina to take part in the annual OneAccord Network Conference: an event where nearly 250 individuals from over 100 international development organizations shared their knowledge and skills and offered support to one another. I was joined by Cynthia Bauer, who is both the founder and CEO for Kupenda, as well as a role-model and inspiration to me.

Listening, Learning, Networking

During the conference, we participated in capacity building workshops, attended presentations from distinguished global development professionals, and built relationships with other practitioners and organizations with whom we can partner to support more people with disabilities around the world.

A man speaking in front a microphone

Jayakumar Christian, former World Vision India National Director

These conversations were also a blessing to me personally, reminding me that we are not tackling these issues alone. There is sometimes a heaviness to this work. Each day we hear new stories of stigmatized children and isolated families. Combatting this stigma can feel like an insurmountable challenge. So, it was incredibly encouraging to engage with likeminded individuals who are fighting alongside us for the health and safety of children with disabilities in impoverished communities.

Moving Beyond the One-Off Projects

Among the highly-qualified speakers at the conference was Jayakumar Christian, a successful author and former National Director of World Vision India. In his plenary remarks, Dr. Christian encouraged the audience to be intentional in inspiring widespread transformation. Our goals should be greater than the short-lived achievement of a successful project, he said. Our work should seek to change hearts and lives, creating enduring ripples of transformation.

Kupenda executes this call well. Our mission is to transform harmful beliefs surrounding disability to those that improve children’s lives. We are uprooting stigma against children with disabilities and replacing it with acceptance and inclusion. We are also raising up disability advocates across the globe to partner with us in eliminating the stigma associated with disability.

To do so, Kupenda implements sustainable, systemic changes at various levels of society:

Joining the Movement

Dr. Christian’s parting words were an invitation:

“In a world of cynicism and skepticism, be a people of hope.”

USAID-led Capacity Building Workshop

You also have an opportunity to partner with Kupenda in inspiring systemic changes that foster more hopeful futures for children and families impacted by disability. You might consider:


Do you know of other conferences or networks like OneAccord that may

help Kupenda to develop our capacity and network more broadly?

If so, please email us with the details: [email protected].

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