For a while now, we’ve been covering the ongoing story of Renée Bach, an American missionary with no medical training who took it upon herself to open a treatment center and provide care to children in Uganda. As a result of her incompetence, over 100 children died — and the mothers of those children sued her.
A lengthy New Yorker piece from April suggested this wasn’t an open and shut case. While Bach misled people, there wasn’t clear-cut evidence that she had broken any laws. Some of the victims may have died even if she had not intervened, and some of the medicine she gave them, while not always helpful, wasn’t harmful either.
Now, the lawsuit has finally been settled.
Under the agreement reached this week, Bach and the charity — Serving His Children — have jointly agreed to pay about $9,500 to each of the mothers, with no admission of liability.
Primah Kwagala, a Ugandan civil rights attorney whose organization filed the suit on behalf of the mothers in January of last year, said that the settlement was in line with typical court judgments for medical malpractice death cases in Uganda and that it had brought her clients a measure of “closure.”
Contacted for comment by NPR, Bach gave her response through her U.S. attorney, David Gibbs. In an email, Gibbs said that “the settlement was deemed by all parties to be in the best interests of all involved.”
In addition, Gibbs said that while he was not “ethically allowed to publicly disseminate confidential settlement discussions,” he could confirm that Bach was able to speak directly with the mothers. Gibbs also said that the charity is shutting down because of a combination of the lawsuit, “media pressure” and the difficulties of fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that “Ms. Bach is not involved in any work in Uganda for her own personal safety.”
It’s a shame that it took media pressure — and not necessarily the death of a child — to stop this monstrosity. But Bach has become the poster child for “voluntourism,” in which an American Christian with little to no qualifications goes overseas to “help” people in developing countries. Whether it’s providing medical care or building houses, many of these “White Saviors” end up causing more harm than good by temporarily replacing services provided by locals.
There are already reputable charities that exist to provide healthcare, such as Doctors Without Borders, that also don’t use religion as a dangling carrot stick before offering help.
If this is the end of her story, so be it. But Bach will hardly be the last Christian to try something like this.
(Screenshot via YouTube)