In December, the entire StrongMinds team was deeply saddened when we lost a dear friend and colleague. Medi Ssengooba, who served as a longstanding StrongMinds Uganda Board member and eventually Chair, passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness on December 14th.
Medi lived a remarkable life. He suffered from polio as a child and spent his remaining years confined to a wheelchair. He became one of the first people with disabilities to graduate from Makerere Law School in Uganda before receiving a Ford Foundation fellowship to earn his Master of Laws degree from American University in Washington, DC.
He went on to pursue a tireless career as a lawyer and activist for persons with physical and psychosocial disabilities. He worked for Human Rights Watch and the Disability Rights Fund and traveled extensively to these programs throughout Africa. Medi also co-founded the legal aid organization Legal Actions for Persons with Disabilities in Uganda.
Medi was a tireless supporter of the work of StrongMinds in Uganda. He was instrumental in guiding our formation and plans in our inaugural year of 2014. He joined our board in 2015 and became the Chair in 2017. Medi strongly believed in the mission of StrongMinds–that mental health is a priority for Africa. He gave us his time and incredibly valuable counsel without hesitation. StrongMinds is successful today in Uganda in such a large part due to Medi’s contributions.
StrongMinds’ founder, Sean Mayberry, and the StrongMinds Uganda Executive Director, Dena Batrice, shared these words on the passing of Medi, “We all, the entire StrongMinds family, grieve Medi’s sudden loss. Medi was a beautiful human being, our wonderful friend and truly one of our greatest supporters.
He loved our work and his passion to improve the lives of all Africans suffering with mental disabilities was incredibly inspirational. Moving into the future without Medi at our side is almost incomprehensible—but we promise to continue to work to improve the mental health of all women in Africa and, in so doing, to continue Medi’s legacy.”
We will miss our friend and colleague so very much. We will miss his smile, humor and good cheer. We will miss the inspiration that he gave to all of us. But we will remember him for the warmth and generosity he bestowed on his friends and colleagues. Our hearts go out to his young family, who lost a husband and father far too soon.