Missionary Facing Lawsuit Says She Does Not Have a ‘white savior complex’

ChurchLeaders | 8/14/2019 | Staff
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The case of American missionary Renee Bach—and a civil lawsuit against her in Uganda—is raising questions about the role of concerned yet unqualified individuals and the so-called “white savior complex.”

Bach, a homeschooled high school graduate with no formal medical training, moved to Uganda at age 20 and founded the charity Serving His Children (SHC). Starting in 2009, she provided free meals to children in the impoverished area of Jinja, a hub of evangelical missions work. But soon, according to the lawsuit and some former volunteers, Bach began treating very sick children without medical knowledge or supervision.

Bach - Children - Facility - Mistakes - Mistakes

Bach admits 105 children died at her facility and says “mistakes were made,” but she insists those mistakes “never resulted in the harm of any individual.”

White Savior Complex or Good Intentions Gone Wrong?

Uganda - Malnutrition - Percent - Deaths - Bach

In Uganda, malnutrition causes 45 percent of child deaths, and Bach says she felt called to act. Saying parents sought her help, she began refeeding children with high-calorie milk.

One-fifth of the children SHC took in during 2011 died, according to documents. Saul Guerrero, a malnutrition expert at UNICEF, says treating the condition—even via IV—is extremely risky. It’s actually safer to do nothing, he says, because children’s bodily functions aren’t working.

Volunteer - Bach - Children - Illnesses - Jackie

One former volunteer who initially admired Bach says she became horrified at how sick the children were. “They had complicated illnesses,” says Jackie Kramlich, a registered nurse hired by SHC. She recalls witnessing Bach perform a blood transfusion while referencing advice from Google. Thinking “this isn’t a game,” Kramlich quit and sent a letter to SHC’s U.S. board of directors. Kramlich also claims Bach recruited families from local hospitals to come to her center, which received steady funding.

Bach admits performing certain procedures without supervision but adds “it was always under the request and direction of a medical professional.” The missionary blogged extensively and now...
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