A US-based outfit, the National Center for Life and Liberty, yesterday issued a statement calling the media ‘reputational terrorists’.
Why? Because of the wide coverage being given to the case of Renee Bach, above, an American missionary who stands accused in a lawsuit of causing the death of hundreds of children in Uganda.
According to this report, Bach, founder of Serving His Children which has been branded a “white saviour” organisation, pretended to be a medical practitioner and illegally operated a medical facility where the children died.
The lawsuit was filed in January by Women’s Probono Initiative on behalf of two mothers, Gimbo Brenda and Kakai Annet, whose children died after receiving treatment at the ministry.
The Women’s Probono Initiative said:
In their case documents, the mothers allege that they were led to believe that Ms. Renee Bach was a ‘medical doctor’ and that her home was a ‘medical facility’ as she was often seen wearing a white coat, a stethoscope and often administered medications to children in her care.
When their children died however, they were told that Ms. Renee has no training at all in medicine and that in 2015, the District Health Officer had closed her facility and ordered her to not offer any treatment to any child.
The Women’s Probono Initiative and the two women are thus alleging that the actions of Renee and SHC led to the death of hundreds of children amounting to violations of human rights including violation of children’s right to access adequate treatment, the right to health of the children, the right to life, the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race and social economic standing and the right to dignity, freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
There is currently no reference to Bach on the ministry’s website but it is described as:
A God-breathed and directed ministry working to end malnutrition in families and communities. We partner with the government of Uganda to provide inpatient therapeutic care for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, supplementary in-home feeding for moderately malnourished children and pregnant/lactating mothers, and sustainable development programs.
Bach’s organisation reportedly revealed that it has treated some 3,400 children suffering from severe malnutrition since 2011.
In a statement published last November, Serving His Children denied allegations that Bach misrepresented herself as a medical professional.
Ms. Bach was trained in basic first aid, CPR and emergency medical stabilization techniques, including IV placement and would be asked by the nursing staff to assist in certain situations. When the center was busy, the nurses appreciated the extra hands and Ms. Bach was happy to help. It should be noted that Ms. Bach was often asked to come alongside medical staff within health facilities outside of SHCI, both private and government operated, in similar circumstances and while she agreed to help, she never represented herself as a medical professional and was always acting under the supervision of licensed medical personnel.
The volunteer wrote:
Initially, I admired Renee for her sacrifice and tireless commitment to helping children battling malnutrition. It was not until January 2014 that my perspective really started to change. It was reported by multiple parties that Renee was actively practicing medicine on children that came to the center. She had medical professionals on staff but she herself, with no medical training, chose to actively treat and respond to serious medical needs of children in crisis.
The volunteer added:
According to previous volunteers and former staff … Renee herself would openly talk about how much she enjoyed ‘hands on medical care’. An unknown number of children have died in the care of this center. Proper protocol was not followed after the children died, so it could be quite challenging to find the total number of lives lost due to such serious negligence.
An ABC 13 News report noted that Bach was supposed to be in court in March to respond to the charges against her but she never appeared.
Kakai Rose, one of the grieving mothers, said.
My son — Elijah Benjamin would be 2 years old today had he been alive. I delivered him at Jinja Hospital on 21st January, 2017. I feel his life was snatched from my arms by the actions of Ms. Renee Bach. I hope the court can give me justice.
Bach’s critics are calling this a case of “white saviorism”, a trend that involves mostly white aid workers “helping” non-white people in developing countries in a way that may benefit the non-native individuals more than the community they came to help.
The No White Saviors website asks:
We often hear foreign nationals speak of how ‘corrupt’ Ugandan run projects are and that donors should ‘not trust the locals’, but what exactly is it called when a foreigner pays themselves up to 900% more than their Ugandan staff?.
No White Saviors co-founder Alaso Olivia Patience, above, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that many volunteers say that it is God who sends them from Africa.
Most of the time I ask myself this question: ‘When is God going to send the African people to America or any part of Europe?’
Patience stated that Bach’s attempt to provide medical care without training equated to experimentation and that Bach failed to change her behavior even when she saw children die.
People have taken Africa to be an experimental ground where you can come and do anything and walk away and go without anyone holding you accountable.
Here’s the National Center for Life and Liberty’s press release that alleged “reputational terrorism”: