UPDATE : Beyond delighted that I have surpassed my initially small target of £1500. I wanted to start with a moderate amount because I have quite simply never raised money before, and like all ideas, this one has taken time to germinate; has taken some research and fieldwork to realise the potential of what I could meaningfully do with £5000.
I started to raise money after witnessing the myriad lack of basics on the ground for the children that the hard working staff simply were not able to provide on top of their roles; education, adequete therapeutic engagement and personal care planning but CRUCIALLY, resettling the overwhelming number of children who end up here either back to families who can safely care for them, who are educated around mental illness or epilepsy and in the abscence of that; facilities where they can be placed to live and grow and get education outside the four walls of the hospital.
Although the scope for change within the ward in terms of what can usefully be done with the £ is endless, my goal is that it needs to be sustainable after I am gone and help change the direction of child and adolescent mental health care if possible in some small way. I have now come to understand that running a pilot project over a period of 3-6 months, collaboratively with the Social Worker from Butabika and Social Work students from local Universities, with support and supervision from highly qualified staff from the UK LINK (NHS east london foundation trust), would be the best way to meaingfully make use of the money raised and address one of the main crises in child and adolescent mental health care. RESETTLEMENT AND FOLLOW UP.
Children are abandoned here on a weekly basis and our longest stay patient currently is over five years. Once children reach 18, they 'graduate' to the adult ward. The NGO's I am researching cater mainly to orphaned children but the reality is that there are few organisations who provide for behaviourally disturbed children, those with learning disability or entrenched mental illness. The ones that too are often vastly costly and overstretched. This project takes a huge amount of manpower in terms of researching what is out there and what viable routes there are to resettling children.
Therefore if I reach my target the pilot, which will be properly monitored and evaluated, will see what steps can be taken, relationships built and awareness raised in terms of this issue.
The majority of the money will go on this, and I aim to be as transparent as possible about costings once it is launched. I will update regularly and try and explain how we are evaluating a pilot in such early stages; I anticipate building relationships with NGO's and organisations prepared to work with us will be a large part of the equation.
I am aiming to make an educational film about epilepsy for the Ministry of Health as it continues to be so minsundertsood here however I have now decided to apply for funding for that elsewhere. A large number of the deaths result from people falling in fires when cooking outside, as treatment in not sought and seizures uncontrolled. It is vital we educate the community on epilepsy as a neurological disorder, too many young people are abused, suffering and dying as a result as having the illness.
The other ideas I had spoken of beore this update are outlined below, and as I mentioned before the scope is endless. But I have decided a focused project that allows some of these children without relatives or support of any kind a chance at a better life is where I want the majority of the money to go. I am including the list I made before, as whatever money I have left over may contribute to some of these ideas, and I will be explicit about which.
I have already started a vegetable garden (photos coming) to enrich their diet. This was the list from before the idea for the pilot project came about:
Employing specialistis within autism and learning disability, working with general nurses in running trainings to promote better physical health care within mental health hospitals (deaths are frequent and common here)
Employing a weekly teacher for the children who are long-stay, trying to implement a curriculum for some of the children who literally, live out their childhood here.
Employing some of the inspirational (but woefully underpaid) staff to work in community education and outreach projects, targeting spiritual leaders so that we can work collaboratively with them. Nurses get about 100 pounds a month here. Most work additional hours for nothing as the wards cant function without them. I frequently visit the wards and there are not enough qualified staff on the ground, the human resource is simply not there.
A great deal of the problems faced here are from people seeking treatments from traditional healers who see mentall illness as a form of spiritual possession or witchraft, and there is tension between seeking medical help and local remedies, possibly because in some ways we are financial competitors to those healers who see these children as their cases to manage. I have heard countless stories of children dying or becoming seriously unwell and attacked in the community simply because their families come to the hospital as a last resort, too late, after countless local rememdies fail.
I want to organise a trip. Most of the children wander around the same four walls, day in, day out. And have done for years. To think what a trip somewhere, perhaps for a weekend somewhere in nature, might be able to do for them would be quite incredible. And implementing weekly trips from the ward for those well enough if I raise enough. I would have to employ staff to accompany me, organise transport food and lodgings etc.
This project has enormous potential and I am totally invested in it. I am being paid a small amount to work here helping to teach a diploma in child mental health, so this is about raising the standards of the ward in Butabika and child mental health care in Uganda in a sustainable way. As the service has only been around for such little time, it needs a great deal of support.
Thanks you so much everyone, I will keep you regularly updated on how things progress and every bit helps here enormously.