african children need to be saved from “white saviors”
June 18, 2019
We’ve all rolled our eyes and fumed when we witnessed yet another white college-age student post pictures on social media of them adorned with starving African children that they flew halfway across the world to save. We’ve all had to restrain our gag reflexes when we read their faux-deep testimonies about how saving these poor children “saved them” right back.
The latest “white savior” in question is Renee Bach, a Virginia native and missionary who, at 18, moved to Uganda to start an NGO to help Ugandan children battling with malnutrition — essentially liberal Mecca for white paternalistic narcissism. Bach had no degree or any medical training but managed to start Serving His Children (SHC), a nonprofit “that works to end the cycle of malnutrition in families and communities through education, treatment and resource management and allocation,” according to Spy Uganda. Serving His Children turned out to be “experimenting on his children” after the organization No White Saviors published a Medium article where one of Bach’s former colleagues revealed that the missionary illegally practiced medicine on the sick Ugandan children she was claiming to save.
Bach arrived in Uganda in 2007 and soon went back home due to lack of organization. She was home in Virginia a year before heading back to Uganda where she started Serving His Children, which started out as a feeding program. Bach started SHC in the informal settlement of Jinja located in the town of Masese. When more malnourished children showed at Bach’s home, Bach took it upon herself to use the little knowledge she had from the experience and her “love of children” to provide unlicensed medical treatment to hundreds of children. “I thought it was so odd because I had never really seen malnutrition before, and was like ‘What is happening? This is so weird,'” she wrote on the SHC blog. “And, so, after we had seen about 12 malnourished kids come through and we had taken them to different hospitals and had poor experiences with them getting even moderate treatment and care, we decided this is an area that the Lord is kind of showing us there is a huge need and maybe this is where we’re supposed to put our focus.”
Serving His Children had Ugandan volunteers and medical practitioners working for it but Bach insisted on working alongside them, performing procedures that ranged from installing an IV to high-level medical procedures. Apparently, Bach loved “hands-on medical care” to the point where she would transfer sick children from actual hospitals and medical centers to SHC. Bach even blogged about the patients she would see too, describing the procedures she would administer in detail. She wrote, “I hooked the baby up to oxygen and got to work….As I took her temperature, started an IV, checked her blood sugar, tested for malaria, and looked at her HB count… I was attempting to diagnose the many problems that could potentially be at hand…After doing a search for blood around Jinja town, we found her type and it was a match! We started the transfusion…”
Volunteers of SHC would often write to the American board of SHC but unfortunately, it was predominantly made up of Bach’s friends and family members. Anyone who complained about Bach’s blatant malpractice was removed for daring to question her calling. This was the doing of Renee’s mother Lauri Bach, who was the US director of SHC and initial funder of the entire operation. SHC was shut down in 2015, after having access to hundreds of Ugandan children, many of which passed away from complications likely attributed to the mistreatment of their malnutrition. Those wanting justice for Bach’s crimes against humanity took their evidence to Ugandan authorities after Bach fled but no formal investigation has been initiated. Those who seek justice from Bach and her family are often met with attackers online who defend Bach’s divine right to play doctor on Ugandan children, which is a prevalent trend with white women who paint themselves as the saviors of vulnerable Black children who get hurt/killed by their actions.
Gimbo Brenda and Ms. Kakai Annet are Ugandan activists who work for the Women’s Probono Initiative (WPI). Brenda and Kakai both lost children who “received care” from Bach. Brenda and Kakai are suing Bach and SHC “for actions they allege led to the death of their babies while in the care,” reports Spy Uganda. Both women brought their children to SHC under the impression that Bach was a doctor (she was a white woman with a lab coat and stethoscope) and that her home was a licensed medical facility — SHC was only registered as a rehabilitation center with the Ugandan government. When their children passed away, the two mothers were told that Bach had zero medical training and that a Ugandan health official closed the clinic down in 2015 and ordered that she not work on any more children. Owing to the lack of protocol and thus no records, no one can speak to the number of children treated and/or killed by Bach.
There is so much to unpack here, starting from the dangers of the “white savior” psyche on Black bodies to the sheer inhumanity faced by the Ugandan kids who died in her fly-by-night operation. All that really needs to be said is: what the actual fuck white people? Leave Africa alone. I guarantee you, as always, you leave it worse than you found it. I was today years old when I finally figured out what it truly means to say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” For Bach, it’ll be a smooth ride there.
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