Window on Kisiizi

Window on Kisiizi

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Easter Updates...

We are getting very excited as our daughter Ruth is coming out for a visit to Kisiizi arriving in Kigali on Good Friday with her friend Chloe.  They recently organised a fund-raising coffee morning for Kisiizi and it went very well.  Will be SO good to see Ruth again and they will be with us in Kisiizi for the Kisiizi Hospital Diamond Jubilee celebrations at which the Archbishop of Uganda and Mrs Doreen Sharp, wife of Dr John Sharp who was the first doctor when Kisiizi started in 1958, will be Guests of Honour... 

Click on the link for Kisiizi Hospital website and you will find the latest newsletter detailing many of the activities going on here...

Hanna is, of course, very busy as a Senior Midwife spending much of her time on Labour Ward which tends to fluctuate from being busy to being frenetic!  Some women come in late with complications which can be challenging.
But as well as her "day job" Hanna also helps in many ways.  Sometimes she heads out driving a hospital ambulance to collect women in labour from community health centres.  These may be half an hour drive away on rough roads (we have murram roads which is a type of gravel which is "graded" with a machine intermittently... but not often enough sometimes so can be rough).

Ian is off to Kampala on 20th March to attend some meetings and to give a talk at the Uganda UK Health Alliance / British Medical Journal conference on work being done in Kisiizi including innovations for patient care and Stre@mline, the IT system we are developing.  It's going to be rather an unusual week as will also attend receptions at the Swedish ambassador's residence on Tuesday and the British High Commisioner's residence on Thursday so should be interesting.

But we do get some breaks...

Hanna enjoying a stroopwaffel from the Netherlands...

We managed a few days away to Bwindi and had a lovely walk up a hill not realising we would see across to the volcanoes.  The one in the photo is actually in Congo... beautiful!

Looking further ahead we are hoping our son Mark will visit in May and we are due back to UK at the end of June ready to host the CMF Developing Health Course in July.  Ian's right hip is needing replacement from over use so not sure of timetable yet...

thanks for all your prayers and encouragement, sorry we have been so busy we haven't updated the blog for ages, but don't give up on us!  Do read the Kisiizi newsletter in the link above to see the range of ministries Kisiizi runs and you will see why life is full.

We send our love and best wishes for Easter... may the wonder of it be fresh for us all this year.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Pressing On! Christmas letter 2017

from Ian & Hanna Spillman


“Lo, within a manger lies,
He who built the starry skies…”

Dear friends
Yes, we are still in Kisiizi… not what we anticipated when we came back unexpectedly in 2012 following an out-of-the-blue phone call from the Bishop asking if we could help as there was a crisis… we must be slow workers!  The past year has again been a roller-coaster of exhilaration, blessings and encouragement with challenges, frustrations and setbacks including unprecedented flooding of Kisiizi in September with damage to the hydro-electricity generation, water supply and low-lying wards which had to be evacuated, not an easy task in the dark with the power off.  
Yet we have been greatly encouraged by the heart-warming response of many friends, churches and groups within Uganda and beyond who have prayed with us, shared practical support and helped us press on… the initial recovery phase saw temporary water supply established, power restored and emergency widening of the river channel to try and avoid a recurrence.  Subsequent very heavy rains and might have caused further flooding if it had not been for this work.  Now we are focusing on the longer-term definitive installation of a more robust water supply, back up for the electricity services plus protection of vulnerable parts of the channel and installation of bridges etc.
Hanna has continued to work as In-charge of Labour Ward, a busy and often challenging environment as some mothers present very late with major problems.   She also currently co-ordinates the Guest House for hospital visitors.  Ian works as a Paediatrician with 1:2 on-call rota as well as the Medical Superintendent role which is demanding.  One of the first lessons is to accept it is impossible to please all the people all the time! 
We are grateful for progress that has been made not least the opening of the Ahumuza Centre, the first purpose-built rural Mental Health centre in Uganda.  It is part of the Christian testimony of Kisiizi to care for the poor and vulnerable and it is a joy to see the Centre operating and bringing help to very needy individuals and families.  We hope to develop the community mental health services more including commencing epilepsy clinics as this is a neglected problem at present. 

Mark with girlfriend Sammie, Ruth and ourselves in UK summer 2017

Mark works as a Chemist and moved from Reading to Gosport to take up a civilian job with the Royal Navy.  He co-authored a text book for undergraduate students and he is drummer in a band that has just recorded an album while Sammie is a Nanny.  Ruth is a primary school teacher in north London and organized fundraising in the School to support Kisiizi following the floods. It went really well especially as Kisiizi’s administrator, Moses Mugume, was in London on that day and visited the school where the children assumed he had flown in from Uganda especially to see them!
<<<  Hanna with Ian’s Mum and her husband Peter
We had been back in UK as usual to help run the annual Christian Medical Fellowship Developing Health Course and then we had a lovely week’s holiday with Mark and Ruth on a last-minute deal to Crete .

We also enjoyed a visit to Holland to catch up with the Dutch side of the family including a special reunion party >>>

We also enjoyed our special Indian friends Laji & Shiela Verghese coming once again to help in Kisiizi…followed by their friend Dr Krupa who has worked as a physician…

We had also managed to get back to UK earlier in the year as Ian’s sister Claire was over from Oz and it was the first time we could all get together for a long time…

The Kisiizi Falls tourism project has proved very popular with over 9,700 visitors in the first 11 months.  All the proceeds go to the hospital Good Samaritan Fund to help the poorest patients.  Attractions include an extraordinary monument showing the transformation from a place of death and despair, where historically girls who became pregnant before marriage would be thrown off the top of the falls, to a centre of healing and hope today. Do look at to see the cave, zip-line, visitors centre, lagoon etc.  Earlier in the year we really enjoyed Ruth visiting Kisiizi in February, the photo shows her with Hanna on the suspension bridge which gives stunning views. 
As we look ahead, the Kisiizi Diamond Jubilee is April 6-8th and will be a big event hosted by the Archbishop of Uganda.  Meanwhile we continue to develop Stre@mline software ready for distribution to other units. More info on webinar Ian presented on for those interested.

We send you our warm greetings and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas as we recall afresh the wonder of the staggering story of Bethlehem.  May there indeed be Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Kisiizi Sketchbook...

A poster in a church in UK of Bishop Festo Kivengere who was based in Kabale our nearest big town...

L to Rt: Lara, new volunteer midwife; Mercy nurse; Krupa Physician; Prima nurse with Hanna cutting cake
from all nations to all nations....

it's a great blessing to have the beauty of Kisiizi Falls and a whole spectrum of birdlife to enjoy when we do get any breathing space from the hospital...

here is one of the magnificent crested cranes, the national symbol of Uganda..

The Chapel Choir relaxing after a Sunday service

The Special Care Baby Unit is partly in a corridor so we are designing a new unit as part of the proposed 2-storey block to replace the old mental health building.  It will also incorporate a basic Intensive Care Unit, maternity and a female surgical ward.

exhausted father catching a quick nap in Children's Ward

Pressing on!

Culvert to go under road for drainage
The aftermath of the floods has impacted in a range of ways as our overall patient numbers have reduced as people have seen or heard of the crisis in the media.
We have had many groups of visitors to the hospital ranging from local community members to government ministers, defence force engineers, colleagues from other health institutions etc. and we are grateful for this interest and support.

The Uganda National Roads Authority have been quick to provide mechanical diggers to widen the river to reduce the risk of further flooding should we have heavy rains again as it is still the rainy season.

Silt filled the Lagoon in the tourism area
After the digger... mud, mud, mud!

As well as the Hospital the farm, meadow and Kisiizi Falls lagoon area were affected by the floods which deposited tons of silt across the site...
see for more on the Kisiizi Falls tourism initiatives
Kisiizi Falls turned brown with all the silt

Blankets donated by local community family

We now have the main generator working again and drinking water back in most houses in the Kisiizi estate area.  The patients who had been evacuated from low-lying ward areas affected by the floods were moved back again after a few days but we will need to do decoration and refurbishment.
We are so grateful for all who have sent messages of encouragement and gifts to Kisiizi Partners appeal.  See for updates

Monday, 11 September 2017



We heard yesterday that serious flooding has inundated Kisiizi causing massive disruption... patients had to be moved from lower wards, the hydro-electricity generator was down, the main water supply from our capped spring interrupted, staff homes cut off etc.

The photo is of the central roundabout area in the in-patient zone near the Chapel.  In our 30+ years involved in Kisiizi we have never seen this.  We are not sure if it is a freak one-off event or if it is part of the changing weather patterns seen in many places.

See for more

Please pray for the Staff seeking to maintain clinical services in such trying circumstances.

We ourselves travel back to Uganda on 14th September, meanwhile we are trying to mobilise support as there will be some major costs to get everything sorted after such catastrophic floods.

thank you.

Sunday, 10 September 2017


Well, after a very long pause, here we are again... Life in Kisiizi  has been very full on and the blog got put to the back burner for an extended period so thanks to those of you who have continued to remember us and for your encouragement...

But its been worth it as so much has been fitted in to the past months so let us give you some highlights... but first to encourage all who can to get to Friends of Kisiizi Day on Saturday 7th October to be held at Brookside Church in Reading with Moses Mugume, our senior hospital administrator, as Guest of Honour.
See for more details.

Moses is over for a month on a Commonwealth Fellowship based in Chester and his diary has already filled up I think!

We came back to UK as usual to help with the annual Christian Medical Fellowship Developing Health Course at the beginning of July which, as usual, was heart-warming as we interacted with a range of impressive speakers and participants and heard about many healthcare projects in a variety of resource-poor settings around the world.  The mix of practical skills workshops, lectures, seminars etc works really well.

We also met up with friends who had worked recently in Kisiizi:  Dr Amy and Midwife Ruth...

with Mark and Ruth in Crete
Then we had a week with Mark and Ruth and an amazing last minute holiday to Crete which was lovely and, unlike most of the Mediterranean, not excessively hot but just right.  We were all very tired so essentially crashed out for the week which was therapeutic!

Hanna with some of the van Mameren family...

We were able to then help Ian's mum when she was discharged after a hip replacement, and then we went to Holland for a week to see Dutch family relatives which was lovely and included a van Mameren family gathering. We really appreciated the warm welcome and also caught up with friends from the past.

We have fitted in a range of talks about Kisiizi to different groups and individuals and done a fair bit of hospital business meeting up with potential workers and sorting out exciting things like bank accounts - groan!

Had a couple of days up in Keswick for the convention and to enjoy a quick glimpse of the beautiful lakes... once again bumped into old friends, meeting up with Diana with whom we had worked when first in Kisiizi in 1987 when she was there as a nurse.  Her husband Johnnie has just been appointed as Principal of the Oak Hill Theological College in London so that will be a big change for them next year...

So what about Kisiizi?

We welcomed our new Bishop, Benon, with his wife Gladys to Kisiizi when he came to chair his first Board of Governors meeting. In the photo is Moses Mugume in the centre.

Kisiizi continues to serve the poor who are mostly subsistence farmers.  There has been a lot of concern with the weather as we have had long periods without rain when it should have come and then recently flooding due to excessive rainfall.  This puts crops at risk, and no crops means no food and there is no safety net so people go hungry.  We still treat a lot of children with malnutrition which in turn makes them vulnerable to all sorts of infections.  At least now we make KisiiziNut on site as a ready-to-use therapeutic feed which is a great help.  The Good Samaritan fund helps to pay for very poor patients so Kisiizi continues the tradition since it first opened in 1958 that it never turns anyone away.

Repairing the hydro-electricity circuit illuminated by Hanna!
We have been spoilt with reliable electricity that we generate on site but recently had a period of challenges when there was a major fault in a transformer and circuit board so it was cold showers for a month and cooking on charcoal.  But we are so grateful for our Kisiizi Hospital Power Limited electricians and team with wonderful support from friends of Kisiizi in UK who offer prompt advice and financial help with the costs of spares and the transport to get them out to Kisiizi.  THANK YOU TO ALL INVOLVED!

The photo shows Hanna next to the police helicopter that landed on the Kisiizi Primary School playing fields in May when Dr Diana Atwiine the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health came to open our new Ahumuza Centre for patients with mental illness.  This was a landmark occasion as the centre is the first of its kind in a rural area anywhere in Uganda and a testimony to the compassion for the vulnerable that Kisiizi demonstrates in a variety of ways.
see the hospital website for more photos and details

Then in June we had the opening of the Kisiizi Falls tourism project supported by United Nations World Tourism Organization (the only project in Uganda to have this link!).  All the proceeds from the tourism go to help the Good Samaritan Fund.  We have had around 7,300 visitors in the first 7 months!

Coucal at Kisiizi Falls

Kisiizi Falls monument unveiling the plaque
Kisiizi Primary School children in traditional dress to welcome the Guest of Honour

There are a range of attractions at Kisiizi Falls so see

for more information.

One high-adrenaline feature is the SkyTrail three-stage zipline where the final stage runs high above the waterfall...

A national broadcaster in Uganda recently produced a short TV report on Kisiizi Falls:

TV video clip

Ian has recently given a presentation in a Webinar organised by Uganda UK Health Alliance and this can be viewed on YouTube on the link below:

Webinar presentation

We travel back to Kisiizi on 14th September and look forward to the next phase...

thanks for your support and encouragement!

Ian and Hanna