VHW: Kigutu's Hope
Devastated by the recent war and extreme poverty, Kigutu, like the rest of Burundi, has had almost no access to the most basic health care. Disease, cholera, malaria, trauma, disability and HIV/AIDS are rife across this small nation, which is one of the poorest countries in Africa and in the world. There are less than 200 doctors in the country (for a population of over seven million) and life expectancy has fallen to almost 40 years old--one of highest mortality rates in the world.
Devastated by the recent war and extreme poverty, Kigutu, like the rest of Burundi, has had almost no access to the most basic health care. Disease, cholera, malaria, trauma, disability and HIV/AIDS are rife across this small nation, which is one of the poorest countries in Africa and in the world. There are less than 200 doctors in the country (for a population of over seven million) and life expectancy has fallen to almost 40 years old--one of highest mortality rates in the world. The only hospital near Kigutu, Rumonge Hospital (22 kilometers away), serves a region of 350,000 people but has only one doctor and three nurses; it is horrendously ill-equipped and has no running water and little, if any, medications.
In July 2006, Village Health Works, a not-for-profit organization based in the U.S. and currently operating in Burundi, began the construction of this vital Kigutu community health center on 26 acres of land the Ministry of Interior of Burundi gave the organization. The health center will recruit, train and employ local nurses and doctors, in conjunction with securing clean water, safe food, and basic education. VHW is committed to relieving suffering and preventing unnecessary death.
Village Health Works is currently working with the local community in Burundi, to build a health center in the rural village of Kigutu, 70 miles from the capital, Bujumbura.
The Advisory Board includes such distinguished figures as Paul Farmer, founder of Partners In Health (PIH), Pulitzer prize wining author Tracy Kidder, Joseph F. O’Donnell, senior dean of students at Dartmouth Medical School, Theodore Niyongabo, MD, former dean of the Medical School of Burundi, and the Burundian Minister of Health, Dr. Triphonie Nkurunziza. VHW’s project manager in Burundi is Nestor Ntibaganya, who was Executive Director of the Burundian National Pharmaceutical Co. and is now commissioner for National Enterprise and Industry in Burundi.
Village Health Works was founded by Deogratias Niyizonkiza, a Burundian, who is currently pursuing his medical training in the United States. Deogratias has had an extraordinary life. In 1994, at twenty-six, he escaped genocide in Burundi and Rwanda and ended up homeless in New York. Eventually, with the help and support of an American family, Deogratias earned a BA from Columbia University. In 2001, he continued post-graduate studies at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he met, and became a close friend of, the renowned Paul Farmer. Since then, he has worked at Partners In Health with Dr. Farmer and PIH medical director, Dr. Joia Mukhurjee, and he is now continuing his medical training at Dartmouth Medical School. Dedicated to saving lives and determined to end the health crisis in his native country, in December 2005, he created Village Health Works.
What makes this project so unique is that Deogratias is from this particular village and is working closely with the community, which is playing a crucial role in the building, management and ownership of this health center. The VHW project has brought the local community together for the first time in thirteen years. The health center has given Kigutu a ray of hope as the village struggles with AIDS and malaria and tries to cope with the consequences of the long and traumatizing war. One elderly man said of the center this summer, “the time we have spent working on it alone have already changed our lives and increased our life expectancy and hope.
It takes a village—whether it’s in the poorest country in Africa or the richest country in the world. We can All Make a Difference!
VILLAGE HEALTH WORKS BENEFIT
JOIN US ON NOVEMBER 8TH FROM 6:00-8:00 P.M., 88 CROSBY ST, SOHO, NYC for a fundraiser to help build and operate a health center
in the Village of Kigutu, Burundi, Africa.
Host Committee: Barbara Lowenstein, Meredith Bernstein, Kevin Burns, Roger Cooper, George C. Fraser, Susan Ginsburg & Jerry Webman, Madeleine Morel, Deogratias Niyizonkiza, Dziwe Ntaba, Rachel Rackow, Lelia Ruckenstein, Irene Skolnick, D. Les Winter, Nancy & Charlie Wolf
Dr. Paul Farmer
Founder of Partners in Health
Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of
The Soul of a New Machine and Mountains Beyond Mountains
Founder of Village Health Works
â—? $100 Donor â—? $250 Silver Donor â—? $500 Gold Donor
Please make checks payable to: THE HITCHCOCK FOUNDATION
Send to: VILLAGE HEALTH WORKS, c/o Barbara Lowenstein
1025 Fifth Avenue, Penthouse D North, New York, New York 10028
Please RSVP Barbara Lowenstein, Barbara@bookhaven.com or
VILLAGE HEALTH WORKS BENEFIT R.S.V.P.
I am pleased to support the Village Health Works Benefit:
Tickets: â–¡ $100 â–¡ $250 â–¡ $500 â–¡ $ Other
Contributions are tax deductible.
Please make checks payable to: Hitchcock Foundation/Village Health Works
Send to: Village Health Works, c/o Barbara Lowenstein
1025 Fifth Avenue, Penthouse D North, New York, NY 10028
Host Committee: Barbara Lowenstein, Meredith Bernstein, Kevin Burns, Roger Cooper, George C. Fraser, Susan Ginsburg & Jerry W. Webman, Madeleine Morel, Deogratias Niyizonkiza, Dwize Ntabla, Rachel Rackow, Lelia Ruckenstein, Irene Skolnick, D. Les Winter,
Nancy & Charlie Wolf
For further information, please contact Barbara Lowenstein at 212-772-2007 or email at Barbara@bookhaven.com
For more information on the Village Health Works benefit, please e-mail Barbara@bookhaven.com or visit their website at http://www.villagehealthworks.org/events.html
SAVE THE DATE, SAVE A VILLAGE!
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“Speaking Truth To Empower.”
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