I first visited Amaudo in 1997, when I was invited to join Kate and Steve for their wedding. Kate and I had graduated together the previous year, and the prospect of such a trip deep into the African bush was too good an opportunity to miss.
I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest – I’d heard about Kate’s Aunt Ros, and the amazing work she was doing to transform mental healthcare provision in the region, but nothing can prepare you for the scale and impact of the organization, which was thriving despite huge cultural and operational challenges. I stayed at Amaudo 2 which had only recently opened, and it was a life-changing experience to spend time with the staff and residents in their community. It was quite some trip and something I’ll always remember.
In 2016 I became a Trustee of Amaudo UK and did a return visit in November for the annual discharge ceremony - an event which sees many of the residents, having reached a point in their journey of recovery and acceptance, return to their families and communities with new skills and support.
Many of the staff that greeted me were the same as my first visit, all had remembered me and it was almost like I’d never been away, even though nearly 20 years had passed. This time what really resonated was the impact Amaudo has not just on the people who have benefitted directly from its support, but their families and the wider community. People who had given up hope were filled with joy and optimism at planning their future lives. Dignitaries from miles around made the long and difficult journey to the centre. The radio was full of talk of the importance of understanding mental health issues, with our Director being interviewed far and wide about the ambitions we have.
I was recently appointed as chair of trustees for Amaudo UK, and plan to return this December for the 30th Anniversary Discharge Ceremony. As well as helping to develop and support the aims of Amaudo, I hope to provide Helping Hands school with additional resources and training. There is so much to celebrate about Amaudo, but so much still to be done…
You can donate to Amaudo here