Richard Semanda

A Ugandan Perspective of the Value of the Spark of Life Philosophy

By Richard Semanda, Spark of Life Master Practitioner and Geriatrician, Founder of Geriatric Respite Care Foundation and the Spark of Life Day Centre, Kampala, Uganda.

Since October 2015, Richard together with his colleague Jesca have pioneered the Spark of Life Philosophy in Uganda educating families, communities and health professionals on how to support people with dementia.

I joined the ageing fraternity 16 years ago and in that time I have observed unpredictable health challenges in people. When it comes to older persons with dementia, it’s worse as the public has outdated, negative common perceptions and assumptions about the condition.

As a gerontologist it gave me a number of questions on how I could help the rapidly accelerating population ageing in Africa yet there were no training opportunities for dementia care. In 2015, a joint ACSA / IAHSA International conference held in Perth, Australia and was a centre for opportunities, especially for the Commonwealth developing countries. This is where I and my colleague Jesca Nakibirango met Jane Verity and Hilary Lee from Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life.  This foundation is who shared and encouraged us to receive the essential Spark of Life Master Practitioner Program training to help Ugandans.

Through generous sponsors, my colleague Jesca Nakibirango and I attended the three-week intensive Spark of Life Master Practitioner Program in November 2015.

I want to assure you, this training has made a very huge difference as we acquired a wealth of information and are now empowered. We have started sharing with different families about the Spark of Life Philosophy since it doesn’t require a lot of finances but just unconditional love hence the only solution to support some poor African communities of people with dementia.

We have built a firm partnership with the Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life, which has sponsored the Geriatric Respite Care Foundation to start a Spark of Life Sunshine Club, which is changing many lives of people with dementia and their families in Uganda’s communities.

Sponsoring the education of many dementia activists, especially those from Africa where dementia information is scarce and where many still regard it as western challenge, is worthwhile funding.