Hugh’s account of the Grand Opening of the new Ahumuza centre!

The completed Ahumuza Centre.

Over the last few years a lot of people have very generously donated to Jamie’s Fund and so, by the beginning of 2016, we were in a position to begin building a new mental health unit at Kisiizi Hospital. A British architect designed a very swish building but after lengthy discussions about the costs and the location of the unit, the design was simplified.

Building eventually began in the middle of 2016.  It was quickly discovered that the chosen site was very wet and so a redesign was needed and two “ground beams” constructed to keep the building rigid.  Bricks were sourced locally and the building went up quickly.  Fitting out took rather longer and so it was only in April 2017 that the building was eventually handed over to the hospital by the building contractor.


The bright airy and clean Men’s ward in the new Ahumuza Centre today …

I visited Kisiizi in November 2016 when much of the work had been completed but the building was still empty.  It was wonderful to see it but it was still only a shell until it had people in it and using it.

... and the old ward today - where so much extraordinary work has been done over the years with so little!

… and the old ward today – where so much extraordinary work has been done over the years with so little!

Following the hand-over, patients were moved from the old, dilapidated ward to the new Centre.  In May this year I visited the old building (a single ward housing men, women and children plus the relatives who were caring for them) and it was in a very poor state of repair which is hardly surprising after more than 70 years of use.


Jim and Avril get their first view of the new Centre

This year, seven of us, including Jamie’s parents, Jim and Avril, travelled to Kisiizi where we arrived on Thursday, 18th May.  After being welcomed by old friends from the hospital, we were taken to see the new Ahumuza Centre.  Ahumuza means “Comfort” or “He comforts” in Rukiga.  It was a much more emotional experience than I imagined and more than a few tears were shed.


The plaque to commemorate Jamie

Later in the afternoon Jim and his brother Mark, installed a stone plaque that had very generously been made in the UK and taken to Uganda by Jim.  A second plaque was also put up celebrating the Grand Opening by the Prime Minister the following day.  In the
event the PM wasn’t able to be there due to an emergency meeting of Parliament but he sent the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwi
ine, in his place.  Incidentally, Dr Diana is also the personal physician to the President of Uganda.

The 19th of May was a beautiful day and there was great excitement as final preparations were made.  The concrete path to the Generator House and the new fences that screened the “long drops” and kitchens of the maternity ward had been finished.  There were final touches and the sweeping and tidying away of unwanted materials so that by 10 o’clock, when the visitors began to gather at the primary school next to the hospital, all was ready.


VIPs waiting to greet the Guest in Chief

As is the way of these things Dr Diana didn’t appear until about 1pm but there was great excitement, particularly among the children, as she came by police helicopter from Kampala and landed on the school playing field in a great cloud of dust.  There were magnificent Rukiga dancers to meet her and the large crowds already there grew during the day.

The first order of the day was the official opening and so a great party of people, important visitors, politicians, clergy, police, doctors, nurses, patients and a host of others wandered up to the Ahumuza Centre where there prayers and a blessing were offered followed by a short hymn.  The plaques were unveiled and then Dr Diana invited Avril and Jim to join her in cutting the ribbon, as she declared the Centre open.

Cake Cutting by Dr Diana , Sr Nancy and Jim and Avril Devaney

Cake Cutting by Dr Diana Atwiine, Sr Nancy and Jim and Avril Devaney

The crowds continued to mill about and the VIPs and others were then given a guided tour by a very proud Sister Nancy.  A large cake was then presented and cut by Dr Diana and Avril and Jim, with portions being given to VIPs, patients, staff and no doubt to many of the people who’d simply turned up to see what was going on!

The tour of the Ahumuza Centre was followed by a brief tour of other areas of the hospital with a long crocodile of people involved before everyone gathered in the school hall where we were welcomed by the Chair of the Hospital (I think) who introduced many of the individuals and organisations represented.  There was some wonderful Rukiga dancing and very moving play and dance put on by the staff and patients of the Mental Health Centre.

Some of the dance performed by the Patients Group

Some of the dance performed by the Patients Group

As this group danced a very energetic Rukiga dance, they were very movingly joined by Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, Head of Mental Health Services in the Ministry of Health in an impromptu show of support for those with mental health issues.

There were speeches by a number of people.  Dr Lionel Mills, a GP in the UK, spoke movingly of the start mental health services at Kisiizi in the 1990s.

Dr Diana Atwiine thanks Jim and Avril and all those who have given so generously through Jamie's Fund.

Dr Diana Atwiine thanks Jim and Avril and all those who have given so generously through Jamie’s Fund.

Dr Sheila spoke about the importance of mental health services and the particular place that Kisiizi had in her heart.  I spoke about Jamie: how he came into my life, that he was a very special little boy and that although he is no longer with us, his untimely death has encouraged many others and leaves an immense legacy not least in the Ahumuza Centre.  I also cautioned that there is much more to be done in Community Mental Health work as well as in the hospital itself.


Some of the guests enjoying the dancing and speeches

Bishop Patrick Tugume (retired Diocesan Bishop) then spoke very movingly and personally about Jamie and the gift that he was, a theme that was then picked up by Dr Diana who was very moved (and moving) about the work done by Kisiizi Hospital, and particularly for patients with mental health needs.

The day was rounded off by the National Anthem and a delicious meal prepared overnight by members of the Hospital team.

It was a wonderful day and, for me, it was particularly exciting to see the Ahamuza Centre “open for business” and to see Sister Nancy beaming from ear to ear!!

I would like to thank everyone who have contributed to the building of the new Ahumuza Centre, however much or however little because, as we have always said, every penny counts towards improving mental health care in Uganda.  Thank you!

And a photo gallery of other parts of the day


Jim and Avril with John “the Brickie”, the clerk of works. (Banner made and presented by members of Heswall URC)


Scouts and Guides from the school tell the story of mental health work at Kisiizi in song


The Chair and Chief Executive of Jamie’s Fund with the team responsible for building the new Centre


Dr Sheila (left) and Dr Maureen deep in professional conversation


Members of the Patients’ Group prepare to dance!


Jim and Avril enter the Centre for the first time


A Long Walk for Jamie

Hugh Burgess, Chair of Jamie’s Fund is taking three months away from his role as Priest in Charge of the Halkyn Mountain Parishes in North Wales to walk the 1500 miles to Santiago in Northern Spain, starting at the end of February 2016.  He is also raising money for Jamie’s Fund while he walks.

You can read more about Hugh’s trip here in a very supportive article from “The Leader” and you can follow his blog to see how he is coping with sun and mud now he is into France, having walked from Halkyn to Southampton.MyDonateQRCode

You can also donate to Hugh’s “MyDonate” page in aid of Jamies Fund here OR copy the QR code below – please feel free to make it widely available!

Let The Building Commence!

The contract for the construction of the new mental health centre at Kisiizi was signed on the 15th January, 2016 and a ceremony to mark the groundbreaking is planned for early February.  We’ll post photos as soon as we have them.

The contractor is an experienced builder with good references, based only about 25 miles away from the hospital. This means that much of the money will go into the local economy, which is what we have always hoped would happen.

The builder was selected from a short list of 4 contractors by the management consultants in Kampala we are using, Aclaim Africa, and representatives from the Senior Management Team at Kisiizi Hospital. A thorough selection process was used to ensure the company had the necessary skills, experience, finances, and evidence of completion of good building on time.

The contractor has draw up a project plan which means that work should start on site at the end of January (subject to the weather, of course).   Initial work will involve organising the site and putting in an access track to avoid having to bring all the materials through the middle of the hospital, with the associated noise and dust.

According to the project timetable, the building should take 6 months to complete, but, as with any building project, there may be some delays along the way, but we are looking forward to the formal handover of the new unit sometime in the third quarter of 2016.

We Still Need Your Help!

Although there is great progress towards completing the building of the new Mental Health Unit at Kisiizi we still need your help to ensure that the building is completed and fitted out to the highest standard, so please don’t stop your fundraising efforts!

It has taken longer to get to this point than we had hoped but a lot of people have worked very hard to get the project to this point and we are in the most exciting phase.  Once the building is complete, mental health patients and their families can receive even more support from the great team at Kisiizi.

You can donate very easily on-line by clicking here… and please don’t forget to Gift Aid your donation if you can – it costs you nothing and significantly increases the funds Jamie’s Fund receives.

Thank you!

Four hundred miles by bike from Entebbe to Kigali

We set off from the guest house in Entebbe, Uganda in the cool of the morning and dropped down to the shores of Lake Victoria. Our bikes were loaded into a small boat and we puttered across the bay. We reassembled the bikes and panniers and set off down the dirt road on our journey to Kigali.

There were three of us, me from UK and two Ugandan friends. Bosco, a driver and Isaac, a computer science student and Scuba instructor.

Avoiding the busiest, dangerous roads and using a mixture of dirt and tar roads we wove our way south west across Uganda. Some of the dirt roads were hard going, rough with loose grit on top and with the occasionally steep hill. But we saw so much of rural life, away from tourist routes. Countless children were excited to see a “mzungu”, a white person, cycle past. We could hear the birdsong and identify a number of the calls.

Cycling4Most of the tar roads were good, many with a meter wide shoulder for cyclists and pedestrians, making us feel safer from the occasional bus roaring past.

A rest day with some bike maintenance then we headed out on the last lap. First a gradual climb up a valley leading to a stiff climb at the head to get over the ridge. On to the Rwandan border and then a steady climb of three thousand feet to reach our resting place.

We relished a glorious twenty mile descent the next morning, with views over the valleys at first and then becoming more restricted as we got lower. There were a number of men on bikes with 40 litres of milk on the carrier heading to Kigali. We kept pace with some of them for a while, they were faster on the descents than we were, with their greater weight, and we would overtake on the more level bits, where our gearing made the difference.

Cycling2And then we turned a corner and there was a group of multi-storey buildings on a hill top in the distance. Kigali, our destination. Eight miles later we were there and we celebrated with a banana split, as nothing like that had been available en route.

403 miles, no punctures, no hassles or security problems and a chance to see rural Africa in a way that allows genuine contact.

Recent Newspaper Articles

jamie-devaneyJamie’s Fund has recently been mentioned in a number of newspaper articles.  Links to two of these are given below.  We’d be very interested to get any feedback you may have.

Season’s Greetings

It has been a busy year for Jamie’s Fund and time has flown since I visited Kisiizi in April.

I recently met with the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership team who had not long returned from Kisiizi and had undertaken some great work there with the staff at Kisiizi Hospital. The team, headed by  Dr Niall Campbell, included Joanna Holland and Dee Brace, both Nurse Practitioners in Early Intervention, Dr Unwana Etta and  Jenny Milburn, Specialist OT . They have some very compelling stories of their week there and we hope to bring you some of these in the New Year.

There has been a lot of activity in Fundraising with Brian, our Community Fundraiser organisiing events to take place in 2015 and strengthening our links with Chester University and their 175th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign.  In addition, the Buy a Brick Campaign continues and if any of you have unwanted gifts at Christmas please let Brian know as he will be happy to sell them on Ebay for you with all proceeds going to Jamie’s Fund. Please do keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for updates on forthcoming events.

We are planning a media campaign in January and hope to raise the profile of Jamie’s Fund early in the new year through local and hopefully some national, media. We will annonce any publicity via the website in advance if possible to make sure you don’t miss our story in the press.

As we end the year, I would like to thank all those who have and continue to raise funds or have made donations to Jamie’s Fund. The time, effort and generosity  put into raising money is hugely appreciated by all at Jamie’s Fund. Every penny takes us a step nearer to the new Mental Health Centre in Kisiizi. Thank you.

I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy 2015.

Best wishes


Mental Health for Sustainable Development

APPGFollowing the recent review on global mental health held at the UK Parliament by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global Health and APPG on Mental Health, a new report was launched on 26th November 2014 titled ‘Mental Health for Sustainable Development’.

The review was Chaired by Lord Nigel Crisp and James Morris MP, with an aim to assess why and how the UK should act to help improve mental health in low and middle income countries. In addition to individual written reports and interviews, the review held two oral evidence sessions for parliamentarians to hear from and question leading experts in the field of international development and global mental health. Dr Maureen Wilkinson, who you will know as an Advisor to Jamie’s Fund, attended Parliament and was involved in the evidence sessions.

Three quarters of people with mental health problems live in low and middle income countries and receive little or no evidence-based treatment. This report sets out three important arguments why mental health matters globally and why development activity will not be truly successful without tackling mental health issues and sets out four clear recommendations for ‘doing more’ and ‘doing differently. To view the report please click here.

CEO Latest News

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at Jamie’s Fund and you may notice some changes to our website recently.

Hugh Burgess, who you will recognise as one of Jamie’s Fund Trustees, has been working very hard behind the scenes to improve our new website so it looks even better and is easier to use. He is also establishing ‘Jamie’s Shop’ which will enable you to buy Jamie’s Fund merchandise such as sweatshirts and t shirts through the website. We hope to have this up and running in plenty of time for you to make purchases for Christmas.

We are really pleased to have appointed Dr Brian Larsen as our new Community Fundraiser and he already has some great ideas to get people involved in Jamie’s Fund and help raise funds towards Phase One of the new Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Kisiizi Hospital. Brian will be developing fundraising projects which we hope you will get involved in and he will also be working closely with the University of Chester to help them raise funds in their 175th Anniversary year. Keep an eye on the website because Brian will be letting you know about his exciting projects very soon. If you have any fundraising ideas or would like some support in your own fundraising efforts, Brian he can be contacted on 07884 406440 or at .  He will be delighted to speak with you.

I met with Ann Bryan, Associate Dean Business and Enterprise at the University of Chester, and Avril Devaney in her role as Director of Nursing, Therapies and Patient Partnership to talk about ways the University, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Jamie’s Fund can work together to develop greater support for the staff providing mental health care at Kiiizi. We will be working on these plans over the next few months and will keep you informed of progress.

Please remember to register with Easyfundraising before you start your online Christmas shopping that way Jamie’s Fund will recieve a percentage of your spend as a donation from the retailer. It really is ‘money for nothing’! You can register at

Please get in touch if you have any fundraising news you would like to share with us  – it would be lovely to hear from you.

Best wishes