The Diversity Foundation is Diversity Travel's in-house charity that provides much-needed support to mental health outreach services in Uganda.
Set up by Diversity Travel's co-founder, Harish Sodha, the Diversity Foundation aims to improve mental health services, treatment and stigma in the rural Ugandan community of Bwindi. Harish, who was born and raised in the country, knows only too well the lack of understanding and treatment for mental health sufferers.
Mental health services in Uganda are very limited. It is estimated that up to 90% of those suffering with mental health issues in the country do not receive treatment of any kind. Not only that, the lack of understanding of mental health issues and how they affect people mean that many individuals are ostracised and mistreated.
The Diversity Foundation has been created to help address these issues, to promote mental health awareness, reduce hospital admissions, train village health teams to identify patients and generally to improve the lives of those who are suffering needlessly.
Bwindi Community Hospital
The Hospital is at the heart of the community in Bwindi, a rural town in south-western Uganda next door to the magnificent Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, which houses Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a World Heritage Site.
The Hospital covers an area the includes:
We chose to work with the brilliant staff at Bwindi Community Hospital for a few key reasons:
- Founders Harish and Sarah witnessed first hand the segregation and prejudice suffered by those with mental health issues in Uganda
- Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH) understand the need for improved understanding and treatment, and started a community mental health service in 2013
- BCH has a dedicated team but much work needs to be done to help them reach their goals – this is where the Foundation comes in
The dedicated staff at the hospital have the following major aim, which we are keen to support:
To have a healthy and productive community, free from preventable diseases and with excellent health services that are accessible to all members of the community.
What are we providing?
£25,000 per year for the next 3 years, plus any donations raised through our in-house events, will provide:
- The full salary of an additional member of staff
- A new and fully funded motorbike
- 2 new laptops
- Funding of Radio shows that reach out to all villages
- Payment for certain drugs
- Contribution to Good Samaritan Fund
Joy and Sarah's Head Shave
Two members of the Diversity Travel team chose to shave off all of their hair in aid of the Diversity Foundation! Joy Machin, Finance Assistant in Credit Control, and Sarah Burrows, Non-Executive Director, both decided to undertake this brave challenge to raise funds and awareness around mental health.
The exciting yet nerve-wracking feat has helped provide support for mental health outreach services in rural Uganda, as well as highlighting the fact that hair - or any aspect of your looks, for that matter - does not define an individual. It goes without saying that we're incredibly proud of these two, who managed to raise:
Our Partnership with Virgin Atlantic & Delta Airlines
For the month of September, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines donated £5.00 to the Diversity Foundation for every booking made through Diversity Travel, on either of the airlines.
We've worked with Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines for several years, building a strong relationship between our teams and finding that we share a key focus on mental health and wellbeing. An example would be the airlines' collaboration with Headspace, an organisation that uses various exercises to help passengers, crew and staff members to enjoy a relaxing, stress-free experience onboard the aircraft.
The airlines are eager to help the Diversity Foundation, as the charity focuses on a particularly remote area of rural Uganda where mental health support and resources are far less accessible than they are in other countries. The contributions that they provided throughout the month of September will help Diversity Travel to continue their efforts in Bwindi for years to come.
Overall, we managed to raise an incredible...
This was the first time we'd ever worked with an airline partner with regard to the Diversity Foundation, so we were extremely excited to join forces and make a real difference to the lives of people in Bwindi!