The Steve Willis Memorial Fund is a special cause that’s very close to the heart of Red Chilli. A proportion of all of our sales goes towards the fund and we organise regular fund-raising activities, which have in the past included a St Andrew’s Ceilidh, a comedy show courtesy of Jane Bussmann (author of “The Worst Date Ever…Or how it took a comedy writer to expose Africa’s Secret War”) and a run/cycle from Red Chilli Murchison to Red Chilli Kampala (300km!). In November 2015 we hosted a very special ten year memorial party in Murchison Falls and thanks to some very generous folk, managed to raise over US$ 14,000 for the fund in one weekend!
So who was Steve Willis?
Steve was born in the UK on 29th August 1967. He came to Uganda in 1995 with the British High Commission but left the diplomatic service out of love for Uganda rather than return to London a few years later. Steve and his wife, Debbie, set up the fledgling Red Chilli Hideaway in Kampala in 1999 and the Murchison extension to the business followed in 2002. On the 8th November 2005, whilst responding to a distress call from a group of explorers in the north of Murchison Falls National Park, Steve and his party were ambushed by LRA rebels and he was tragically shot and killed.
It was so typical of Steve that he should risk his own safety in order to go to the aid of someone he believed to be in distress. His humanitarian gesture cost him his life and deprived his family of a husband to Debbie and a father to Joseph (then aged 2) and a then unborn daughter, Zoe. Debbie continues to run The Red Chilli today (with an awful lot of help!) and raising money for others whose lives were also affected by the LRA is an important way of keeping Steve’s name alive, as well as helping some desperately needy people in northern Uganda.
Where do the funds go?
The vast majority of people in the area surrounding Murchison Falls are still drinking out of traditional water sources – very often little more than a stagnant pool or spring – and so disease is rife. The Steve Willis Memorial Fund seeks to help those who have been afflicted by the LRA by providing clean drinking water and providing education in hygiene and sanitation. Working hand-in-hand with The Water Trust, a U.S. based charity with offices in Masindi, the Steve Willis Memorial Fund has so far funded 20 boreholes. 4 of these constitute the sole water source in a Refugee Settlement of 10,000 people. The last two boreholes were drilled in January 2016 in Diima and Karuma Health Centers – for further details, check out the following links: Diima Health Center and Karuma Health Center. All proceeds to the fund go directly to the installation of more boreholes in the area.
What can you do?
Simply stay at Red Chilli, play a game of pool, swap a book or buy some of our local crafts and you will be contributing towards the Steve Willis Memorial Fund. Look out for special events too! If you would like to make an independent donation, please get in touch with us via this website and we will very happily pass on bank details…many many thanks!!!