THE family of a British boy who died while on a fund-raising trip in Uganda six years ago have marked World Mental Health Day by celebrating the opening of a mental-health centre in a hospital in Rukungiri.
The opening of the Ahumuza Centre — meaning “place of hope” — at Kisiizi Hospital, coincided with World Mental Health Day on 10 October. The centre is being funded by Jamie’s Fund, a charity established by Avril Devaney in memory of her four-year-old son, Jamie, who died from an infection while she and her husband, Jim, were campaigning to improve mental health in the region.
Mrs Devaney is the Director of Nursing at the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), and attends St Mary’s, Halkyn, in north Wales. She was leading a project to establish a link between the CWP and the mental-health ward at Kisiizi Hospital, when Jamie became ill. He was treated at the hospital before being air-lifted to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, in Nairobi, Kenya, where he died 12 days later, on 29 July 2011.
The Ahumuza Centre is a partnership between Jamie’s Fund, CWP, Kisiizi Hospital, and the Halkyn Mountain parishes. Among its aims are the reduction of mental-health stigma in the region, and support for the rehabilitation of patients who have returned home.
“It is an amazing place because of the people who are there,” Mrs Devaney said this week. “The motto of Kisiizi Hospital is ‘Life in all its fullness’, and we are more aware than ever that full lives can be lived whatever a person’s circumstances. We are incredibly comforted to know that people will continue to be blessed because of Jamie’s life.”
The Team Vicar in the Estuary and Mountain Mission Area, the Revd Hugh Burgess, who chairs Jamie’s Fund, said: “The parish has been touched by the inspirational story of Avril and her husband Jim’s journey through grief to hope, and then to this wonderful moment of creating a new centre to care for people in Uganda with mental illness.
“I know how important their faith has been to them during this time, and how many people’s lives have now been touched by their story, and the legacy of a very special four-year-old boy, in whose name and memory wonderful things continue to be achieved.”
The centre offers facilities for day patients as well as in-patient wards, occupational therapy, a specialist area for distressed persons, and training and support for health-care workers. It also has gardens and recreational areas for patients’ use.
A variety of exchange visits and shared learning has taken place between Kisiizi Hospital and the NHS in Cheshire. The opening was attended by the Secretary of Health in Uganda, Dr Diana Atwine.