A U.S. missionary accused of “playing doctor” and running a phony medical center in Africa, where nearly 100 children allegedly died under her care, is facing a lawsuit in Ugandan courts.
Virginia native Renee Bach founded the nonprofit Serving His Children nearly a decade ago following a 10-month visit to the East African nation of Uganda, local station WSLS reported. Bach was just 19 when she started the organization, which is focused on preventative care and treatment services for malnourished children.
According to the station, Serving His Children has serviced over 3,400 families since 2011 via medical evaluations and education programs. The only issue is Bach isn’t a licensed physician.
The Women’s Probono Initiative has since filed a complaint on behalf of two mothers who say their children died while in Bach’s care, accusing her of posing as a doctor and characterizing her home as a medical care facility. The lawsuit alleges her actions resulted in the deaths of over 100 children, AllAfrica.com reported.
In their complaint, the two mothers said Bach was often seen sporting a white coat, a stethoscope and administering care to young children who were under her care. It was only after their babies died that the women learned Bach had no medical training whatsoever.
In fact, the women said they learned that in 2015 the district health officer shuttered Bach’s facility and ordered her to stop treating children there. Yet, Bach, who only has a high school diploma, continued her work.
“It’s unacceptable, narcissistic behavior, for anyone, black or white, rich or poor, missionary [or] angel to pass off as a ‘medical practitioner’ when they are not,” said Beatrice Kayaga, an officer at the Women’s Probono Initiative, in a press release announcing the suit.
‘There are procedural and regulatory mechanisms that ought to be followed when establishing a medical facility in Uganda,” she added.
According to a report by the News Advance, Bach claimed her facility was registered with the Ugandan government as a rehab center. What started as a feeding program for local kids quickly grew to become a “haven” for those suffering from malnutrition — or so they thought.
“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,” Bach told the newspaper in 2017.
Despite having no medical experience, Ugandan officials said Bach would administer blood transfusions and other medical procedures. A photo on Tumblr blog “Welcome to the Village” shows the white missionary inserting an IV line into a severely malnourished child.
Semei Jolly, a former Serving His Children employee, told Al Jazeera earlier this month that Bach would often cancel the prescribed medications from local doctors in favor of her own treatments.
“This is so striking in my mind,” Alaso Olivia Patience, an activist with the group “No White Saviors” also told the outlet. “This is a woman who’s sitting freely in the United States after committing such things on our children.”
Keep sharing this story. #ReneeBach and #ServingHisChildren need to be infamous until they are legally held accountable for their crimes against Ugandan children & families. Black babies are NOT your test subjects. *We are looking for a Virginia licensed attorney to consult* https://t.co/j4wXWiaijX
— No White Saviors (@nowhitesaviors) June 10, 2019
Patience argued that “if it was a Black woman who went to the U.S. or any part of Europe” and did what Bach did, they’d be under the jail.
It’s “because of white privilege that this woman is now free,” she added.
The new lawsuit is now urging the Jinja High Court in Uganda to shutter Bach’s organization altogether and accuses the Virginia woman of “violating their 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 concerning case has gained international attention, but the embattled missionary is fighting back against the allegations. Bach’s attorney, David Gibbs, has called the claims flat-out lies.
“The people of Uganda aren’t stupid,” Gibbs told WSLS on Monday. “It almost has a racist undertone in that somehow they wouldn’t understand that this was a girl who’d gone over [to Uganda] in their late teens and served there for a decade.”
“They knew exactly who she was,” he added.
The attorney noted that Gibbs learned skills to administer care as needed but always worked under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. A trial date is scheduled for January 2020 in a Ugandan court.
Serving His Children didn’t return Atlanta Black Star’s request for comment.
Watch more in the video below.