How many times have you seen pictures of so-called development workers, who heroically and selflessly leave their privileged homes in the West to travel to any one of 54 countries on the African continent—although they’ll usually just say “Africa” as if it were a country?
They go to build houses or schools or work in a clinic, sometimes saying that they’re there to “save” people or even “save Africa,” all one billion of us, despite what is usually zero knowledge of any of the continent’s 3000 or more languages, more than 5000 years of civilisations and ancient literatures, its countless cultures, religions, and philosophies, or its contemporary arts, industry, and politics.
They also usually do not question why, in the case of the often barely-qualified “voluntourists” who build houses or schools, it is better for them to give airlines and hotels hundreds or even thousands of dollars than it is to pay local citizens of those countries to do the work their countries need. Nor do they ask the effects of spending tens of thousands of dollars to pay the salaries of foreign doctors, while also transporting, housing, and feeding them, instead of paying doctors from those countries so they can serve the communities that produced them.
But, so long as they pose for photos holding one of our babies and surrounding themselves with our children so they look like saints in shining skin, everything’s great, right?
Those are some of the concerns that Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo shared with me. He wasn’t interested in being sucked down the brain drain to grab the riches of practicing medicine abroad. He wanted to build his community, and so he created and headed the Kigezi Healthcare Foundation, KIHEFO, in Uganda.
Years ago he was touring Canada to raise awareness about and funds for his organisation which holistically assists people in Uganda’s Kigezi highlands to address hunger, HIV-AIDS, and entrepreneurship. I met him during that tour in Edmonton on June 1, 2011, and we spoke at the office of Change for Children which sponsors KIHEFO’s work. We discussed a range of topics, including:
He began by explaining how he rose from deprivation to become a doctor for his nation.