A Simple Solution
My favorite places, are the ones you can’t really drive to. It is a sure sign, that you’re in for something special, or terrible, or a mixture of both.
This past Sunday, Genna, our field support officer, and I went out to Kavumu, together with Dr. Prince Imani - the founder of Medecins au Service des Demunis (MSD), and a gynecologist in training at Panzi Hospital.
We had visited the offices of MSD in Panzi before, and their existing Afya Bora clinic, near the outskirts of town, that serves women unable to pay for care, and who maybe don’t meet the criteria set out by NGO’s and other reproductive health actors. While visiting him there, we learned that Imani had a much bigger dream, than to simply to run a small clinic in Panzi, he wanted to use his skills, to serve the rural and vulnerable of his country, in places where the needs were so great, and yet going unaddressed. This young man, just amazed me with his passion, his determination and his PROGRESS! With barely any money, for his own needs, he was successfully running a small clinic, using his car to take teams of doctors into rural communities with high rates of violence and/or STDs, and had just rented another house in Kavumu, to move his entire operation into.
Needless to say, I knew that I had to see this new house in Kavumu, that would soon become a beacon of hope and of change for the members of the community there. A locally-initiated, and locally-run institution that would impact countless lives in a simple, direct and beautifully effective way.
So, we visited the future clinic as a Sunday evening activity.
When we pulled our car up into a barely existent, but very uphill road, I knew we would run into trouble before long. Expectedly, we ended up having to pull to the side, which essentially still meant the middle of the road, and walk the rest of the way, to this beautiful landmark of possibility.
Dr. Imani’s vision for this clinic, isn’t necessarily world-changing, it isn’t particularly innovative, he won’t have robot-arms retrieving medicine from his laboratory. He may only have electricity twice a week, actually. He hasn’t invented a new vaccine, or developed his own surgical method - but yet, he will save innumerable lives.
We know that the future Afya Bora clinic will prevent countless cases of fistula for example - simply by providing family-planning, access to C-sections, emergency obstetric care, and general reproductive health education - all of which are proven to dramatically reduce the risk of a woman experiencing fistula or some other form of devastating injury, while giving birth.
The fact is and always has been, that, we absolutely know what it takes to save the lives of women, whether survivors of violence or new mothers. We know what it takes to prevent obstetric fistula - clearly, since it is virtually nonexistent in most of the ‘developed’ countries of the world, except in cases of surgical incidents. It’s no secret anymore about what it takes to ensure that mothers don’t lose their lives while giving life - we’re no longer dealing with mystery conditions, we have no idea how to address.
Access to quality reproductive health and emergency obstetric care, are key, no rocket science involved. Where it gets complex, is figuring out exactly how to do that, in complex countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. At Channel Initiative, we believe that the solution rests in working through local channels, supporting local heroes and essentially, the long-haul approach. Working to develop local solutions that will stand the test of time, and will bring universal access to quality and relevant care. And this is what Dr. Imani will do and already does. No fanfare, no big white 4*4 jeep, no humanitarian flag on his car, no satellite radio phones, no website, no op-ed pieces, no hefty hazard pay to line his pockets - just a simple passion to use his skills for good and a simple solution to a devastating problem - lack of access to care.
We’re super excited to begin working with this doctor, who has supported us this past year, by working as our animator and community education teacher. He has entertained us with his amazing theatrics in villages and he has humbled us by his consoling demeanor with the women he serves, and his genuine hurt by the pain being endured by his country-men and women.
Channel Initiative is a small organization, movement, network, community, what have you, and so - the plights of the so-called under-dogs are near and dear to our hearts. We live them...everyday. So, it is our huge honor and new challenge - to be able to walk through the process of doing this amazing, community-building, empowering, hope-bringing, and life-saving work, together with Medecins au Service des Demunis - work that defies status quo, and places both responsibility and opportunity into the hands of the Congolese people.
We’re excited! You should be too!
Interested in supporting the work of Dr. Imani in Kavumu, and ensure that women don’t have to die or experience devastating injuries, while giving life? Then, support our Rally campaign to back this local hero - https://rally.org/healthincongo