By Patrick Jaramogi
Jinja–Uganda: A Mzungu woman based in Jinja, who has been purporting to be a medic, leading to scores of deaths of young children, has been dragged to court. Renee Bach, and her SHC (Serving His Children), a non-profit Organization (NGO), based in Masese I in Jinja, will have to answer charges ranging from impersonation to causing death.
TheSpy Uganda has established that the Women’s Probono Initiative (WPI) staff, Ms. Gimbo Brenda and Ms. Kakai Annet have sued Ms. Renee Bach and Serving His Children (SHC) for actions they allege led to the death of their babies while in the care of Ms. Renee, the Director of SHC. According to the suit documents, which we have obtained, the mothers allege that they were led to believe that Ms. Renee 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 had no training at all in medicine and that in 2015 the District Health Officer had closed her facility and ordered her not to 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.
The complainants are demanding that SHC be closed and ceases to operate in Uganda forth with and that general damages be awarded to the aggrieved families complaining herein. ‘There are procedural and regulatory mechanisms that ought to be followed when establishing a medical facility in Uganda. Even so the law provides for licensing agencies and protocols for who should practice medicine in Uganda. It is unacceptable, narcissistic behavior, for any one, black or white, rich or poor, missionary or angel to pass off as a ‘medical practitioner’ when they are not,” said Gimbo. The petitioner observed that by doing so, they mislead unsuspecting vulnerable members of the public. “The actions of Renee & SHC have caused so much pain, injustice, a lack of transparency and accountability by the organization Serving His Children. The Judiciary has a role to play in ending this.” – Said Ms. Beatrice Kayaga – an officer at the Women’s Probono Initiative (WPI). “My son – Elijah Benjamin would be two (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” – Ms. Kakai Rose painfully retorts.
Who is Renee Bach?
Spy Uganda went deeper to investigate who Renee Bach is. According to immigration department papers, Renee Bach, a resident of Bedford in Virginia, first arrived in Uganda alone in September 2007, she was just 18 years old then. When she landed in Uganda, the 18 year old got disorganized after her organized arrival ride from the airport was nowhere to be seen. That was her first and most nerve-wracking experience in Uganda, when she arrived. She eventually flew back to Bedford only to organise herself and return after a year later, but a much better person, but this time for good. Months before her first arrival in Uganda, Renee had graduated from high school without a clue about what she wanted to do with her life. She had always been involved in some sort of volunteer service, from in-country mission trips in high school to working on her family’s farm, Many Blessings Farm, and helping run the farm’s nonprofit hypotherapy practice. Hypotherapy is a type of therapy that involves working with horses. According to our investigations, Renee had also been a nanny for years and loved children. After some research, she applied to work with Amani Baby Cottage, a babies’ home that provides care for orphaned, abandoned and needy children. “I had never really heard of Uganda before or much about it,” she said. “It’s like such a tiny, little country. I didn’t know a lot about it initially and I didn’t know anyone who had been there before, but just kind of took a leap of faith and felt like that’s where the Lord was calling me to go, ” said Renee. Months later, she found herself in Jinja, Uganda. It was a 10-month trip she specifically got her passport and her mum’s, Lauri Bach. According to Renee, she loved Uganda a lot and didn’t want to just go back and piddle around. She would go back if it was the Lord’s plan, she decided, but not if it was her own desire. She returned to Virginia in the summer of 2008 and worked as athletic director at Camp Virginia Jaycee Inc., a Bedford-based nonprofit that serves children and adults with special needs. But at the end of summer, something had changed. “I felt like it was pretty clear from talking to people that were a lot older and wiser than me and really thinking through what I wanted to do with my life that I was supposed to return,” she said. She looked into some companies she had worked for previously, but nothing stood out. So she started her own. “That’s when I really felt like ‘Well, maybe there’s a need to be met in that community that isn’t already being met and maybe I can be a part of that,’” she said. Serving His Children (SHC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to end the cycle of malnutrition in families and communities through education, treatment and resource management and allocation. The organization initially started as a feeding program that provided food to children, but soon children suffering from malnutrition began to show up at the center’s gate in Masese, a “slum” in Jinja, 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.’ “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.” After a trial period treating malnourished children, SHC was reregistered as a rehabilitation center with the Ugandan government. Five years later, SHC is grew quickly. Lauri Bach, Renee’s mum said it cost her about $25,000 (UGX87.5m)to run its entire first year and now costs about $17,000 (UGX61.2M) a month.
SpyUganda established that the organization (SHC) is something of a family business, with Bach’s relatives taking on some roles. Her mother is SHC’s U.S. director, and her sister, Eileen, 22, works with the organization’s marketing and social media team from time to time. However, we found out that the majority of employees are Ugandans, though casuals. Bach, who was recently in Bedford to visit family and raise money for the organization’s latest campaign, said she remembers the exact moment she fell in love with Uganda. She declined to comment on the case saying she is yet to be served.