“Let us bury ourselves”

Bwindi Community Hospital Admin lobbyAs I was conducting research to expand and update the wikipedia article for the Bwindi Community hospital, I found this story.  Its beauty is something I need to share with you.

In the 80’s the country was experiencing close to 25% percent prevelance in AIDS infections and by the 90’s, due to a lack of retrovirals, population reduction due to the AIDS epidemic was astounding[1]. People who traveled to Uganda in the 90’s remember the “boom” in casket making.  At the village level a structure and community process was created to address the large amount of deaths.  In the southwest region burial leaders were selected and they would coordinate the burial, donations, and assistance to the families.  Their motto for this process was Bataka Twizikyo, “Let us bury ourselves.”

In 2010, as the idea for a community health care scheme began to take root the hospital searched for a motto. As  a way to explain the health insurance scheme the hospital explained that the whole community “pools” their money to care for each other. When they need to go to the hospital they have paid their 6,000 UGX ($3USD) per person per year.  The pooled money is available to pay for their treatment when they get sick with anything from a broken bone to more serious diseases.  The natural motto then was built upon the earlier burial phrase, it became, Bataka Twetambire, “Let us heal ourselves.”

This community has substantial ownership of the hospital and healthcare scheme.  They worked hard to create the hospital and now to improve its services.  I am working on writing a history of the hospital. A task that will take several more interviews when I return to the US.
Check out the hospital website and the new Wikipedia Article. The pictures for Wikipedia are still awaiting approval.  45% of their funding comes from individual donors so think about making a small donation.  $100 USD pays a doctors wage for 1 month.
Bwindi Community Hospital, Uganda. 

[1] Avert. Org, HIV and AIDS in Uganda. http://www.avert.org/aids-uganda.htm#contentTable0 accessed February 4, 2013