14 June 2019

Uganda: Is Mzungu Savior Killing Babies in Mayuge?

None of the mothers knows what exactly happened to her child. What they all say is their children were not growing normally and were possibly malnourished. They all went to Renee Bach for help. And the children died.

Renee Bach is believed to be from Bedford; a town in the U.S. state of Virginia. In Uganda, she runs an NGO called Serving His Children (SHC) based in Masese 1 village of Jinja town in eastern Uganda.A white poster that hangs over the entrance of the center states Renee Bach promises: "Breaking the cycle of malnutrition in families and communities across Uganda".

But Renee Bach is now being sued in the High Court in Jinja for the death of over 100 children under her care in unclear circumstances.

A female lawyer's NGO – Women's Pro bono Initiative (WPI) is providing legal aid to the mothers, who are mainly vulnerable women.

Beatrice Kayaga, a legal officer at WPI told The Independent that, without any medical qualification, Renee Bach has been performing medical procedures and giving treatment to children of unsuspecting parents.

Annet Kakai is one of the mothers who lost a child and is suing Renee Bach.

"Those people did something to my child and he died," she said, "They gave him something. When we got home he died."

Kakai is from of Buzika village in Buikwe district near Jinja and her son, Elijah, was reportedly not growing well when she first went to Bach's NGO for help. The baby was thin. Kakai says her friend, who she only knows as Fatumah, had told her of the white lady who would help feed her one year old to grow fat.

"Elijah was playing. He was laughing. My worry was he was too small for his age," she says. Fatumah had already told Bach about her when they arrived.

"The white lady dressed in doctor's uniform (white lab coat) took my son and went with him to another room," Kakai says. Bach returned the baby after about an hour and through an interpreter she asked Kakai to return to the facility the next day.

When she returned the next day, Kakai and her baby was put me in a car driven to Kigandaalo Health Center IV in Mayuge; another district.

"Elijah was given some milk. We stayed there for two days and they discharged us," Kakai says. She was not given a medical form or any document or any explanation.

"They didn't say anything. They drove me up to Jinja Amber Court and gave me Shs2000. When we got home the baby became very weak. He died three days later," she sobs "Those people did something to my child and he died."

She is now seeking justice. Her case is set to be heard on Mar.12 at the High Court in Jinja.

Kakai is not the only one who has lost a child at the hands of Bach. Up to a hundred children are said to have died ever since the white savior opened her facility first from 2012 to 2015 in Jinja and from 2016 when they relocated to Mayuge as a nutrition center under the government-owned Kigandaalo Health Center IV to date.

Experimenting on children

Kayaga says information from witnesses that have worked at the facility show Bach surfed the internet and at times would call doctors in the U.S.when dealing with cases.

She says Bach has hired social workers who comb government health facilities and homes from as far as Butaleja and Mbale districts. As a result the center at Kigandaalo Health Center IV now handles about 20 children a day – both in and out patient departments.

That's how they landed on Zubedah Gimbo of Kizuba village in Namutumba district and she lost her three-year old son under unclear circumstances. According to Gimbo, they took her son, Twalali Kifabi, from her while she was heavily pregnant.

"They only returned him home in a coffin and gave me an envelope with Shs50, 000 in it," she says, "They came in a car and left immediately, before burial. I had questions as to what had killed my child. I needed help and explanations. None was given to me by the women that came with the body of my dead child."

Gimbo says that, July 22, 2013 is stuck in her memory.

"They called me that he had died. I had asked my mother to help me go with the child because I was heavily pregnant. I had earlier taken him to Nawandagala Health Center in Namutumba and doctors there advised me to give him nutritious foods. They gave me a list. I couldn't afford them."

She says when she started hearing stories of other parents saying Bach is not a doctor, she realised she could have made some mistake that killed her son.

Gimbo now wants court to compel Bach to give her an explanation. She says her mother said for the three days of admission at the Masese 1 center, the white woman would connect tubes to the child's arms and chest, and that she would give him some things to drink.

The Independent contacted Bach to verify these claims.She didn't respond to her mail and yet her phone was off. Another contact at the facility said they were not doing any media interviews or speaking publically about an issue since its going before court.

But, in September 2017, Bach had given an interview to a U.S.newspaper where it's said she had gone to raise funds to cater for bills back here in eastern Uganda. She reportedly spends $17,000 (Approx. Shs 62 million) per month. She told them she had started SHC as a food aid organisation in 2012 but that quickly changed.

"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 not 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."

According to the article published in The News and Advance a daily newspaper in Virginia, Bach said, "And 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 was describing how the malnourished children look. She possibly was overwhelmed.

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