During his recent visit to Uganda, the Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen T.D. paid an official visit to the Jinga Hospice in the Busoga Region of the Country where he presented a cheque of €5,000 to Clare Doctors Frank and Patricia Hassett as a contribution from the Irish Government for the outstanding work being undertaken there.
“I was very pleased to fulfil a long standing invitation from Dr’s Frank and Patricia Hassett to visit this Hospice which was founded in 2005. They saw the need for a palliative care service for patients with advanced cancer and HIV/AIDS in Jinja which is capital of the Bosoga region with a population of 4.5 million.
When I arrived in Jinga on Saturday morning accompanied by the Irish Ambassador to Uganda Donal Cronin I was greeted by Frank and Patricia together with members of their local Board, Local Civic officials, Representatives of the Department of Health and many of the patients who are supported through the clinic who had travelled into the Hospice for the day and we were treated to a wonderful display of local traditional music and dancing.
I was honoured to present the cheque for €5,000 to the Hassett’s as I have been lobbying support for this project since I was first appointed Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee. This financial aid will help in the challenges of vehicle replacement, monthly fuel and vehicle maintenance and the education and mobilisation of community volunteers who are essential to the efficient running of this service.
We then travelled out on a field visit when I was so proud as a Clare man to see at first hand for myself the compassionate work that the Hassett’s are doing on the ground providing a range of palliative care supports which is making a real difference for patients with cancer and HIV/AIDS. And in the spirit of our Irish Tradition I brought a gift of a food hamper to the families we visited which I hoped would alleviate some hardship for them.
The Hassett’s and their hospice team visit patients in their own homes, in local hospitals, at roadside clinics and at their network of outreach clinics and their goal is to expand their services to all the Busoga Region and presently have a palliative care presence in 6 of the 10 Districts
Following our official talks with Dr’s Frank and Patricia Hassett and their Local Board, The Irish Government and Irish Aid will now begin the process of exploring how we can develop the relationship with the Jinja Hospice, and further meetings with other NGO’s and the Government of Uganda are planned.
One of the other highlights of my visit was my visit the Kangole Girls School, a 650 girls school which is run by the Sacred Heart Sisters in Karmajoa and to listen to the students as they sang the Irish National Anthem.
As Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, I have an oversight role in assessing how Ireland manages our oversee Official Aid programme and my visit to Uganda also included meetings with Hon Oryem Henry Okello, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of International Affairs; Meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament Hon Rebecca Kadaga, meetings with Human Rights Civil Society Organisations, UN agencies and Irish CSO’s; Meetings with various Local and District Government Officials, meetings with private sector and business contacts and other key partners in order that I could gain an insight into the wide range of activities undertaken by the Embassy in Uganda to develop bilateral relations between our two countries and to see how the Irish Aid programme has evolved in the aftermath of the fraud in the Office of the Prime Minister which was uncovered in 2012.