Dr Tharcisse Nshimirimana founded The Village Microclinic in 2017. Inspired by more than a decade of experience serving remote and underserved communities of Burundi, two years of training through the African Visionary Fellowship Program by Segal Family Foundation, a learning visit at Lwala Community Alliance in Kenya and a 2019 Cordes fellowship to attend Opportunity Collaboration in Mexico, he realized that, in the health’s domain, if you are going to solve a problem in isolation, you will fail. He also came to realize that the causes of poor health are complex and interconnected especially in poor and underserved communities of Burundi where infants and maternal mortality are among the worst in sub Saharan Africa. He then initiated the Village Microclinic Strategy which aims at holistically inspiring and empowering people from peri-urban areas and slums of Burundi to advance their own health and well-being.
What a compassionate doctor!
Having studied medicine with the passion of changing the health conditions of the poorest people, Doctor Tharcisse Nshimirimana did not even ask himself the question twice to realize his greatest dream. Thus, in 2017, he founded The Village Microclinic to help the population from slums and underserved communities of Burundi to have have access to healthcare without having to travel long distances to hospitals towards the city of Bujumbura.
Before Doctor Tharcisse decided to make his dream come true, he had a job. Nobody should have even thought that he will one day give up his job to take care of the underprivileged people in the suburbs and slums. He reveals to us his foremost conviction. “Building a social innovation for me is living by dream. My dream is to see that none is dying from treatable and preventable conditions in Burundi. The great impact it has on me is that I feel happy and grateful for I have been trying my best so as to contribute to the well-being of my community and then make the world a better place”.
Despite challenges, he keeps the fire burning!
The first challenge that Doctor Tharcisse encountered when he started implementing what will empower his community is that none understood what he was doing, even his family and colleagues. “For example, I had to walk many miles by foot, climb a steep slope to reach the community I serve. And I was not paid. None could understand how a qualified medical Doctor can work without being paid. Another core challenge was lack of funds to start activities and to provide the community with medicines”, he confides.
However, as Dr. Tharcisse is full of compassion and wants to change the health conditions of the population at the top of the hill who, to reach the nearest hospital, must climb a steep slope, did not throw in the towel. “I was not discouraged. I was going up and down a steep slope towards where I was going to build The Village Microclinic. I was felt puffed and I was sweating like an athlete. But deep down, I said to myself: I must help this population to access healthcare close to home”.
It’s hard but it’s possible
Doctor Tharcisse Nshimirimana is now proud to see his dream come true. “When we started the foundation, I wondered if we would someday have well-built walls. Apart from the terracing of the property, we collected rubbleworks from the river and we had to carry them by the head. Seeing this stage of construction, I feel very happy that soon we will open the doors and hence serve our community.”
As Dr. Tharcisse informs, The Village Microclinic’s interventions are focused on patient needs beyond medical care through a holistic approach to health. “We want to create a world where access to prevention and health services is not a privilege but an unalienable right. We want to treat everyone as a complete individual with physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs”, he defends
The Village Microclinic’s health services delivery is therefore based on 5 pillars namely child and maternal health, reproductive health, Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Management, HIV community care and support, Adult health. Nevertheless, the main focus of The Village Microclinic is the improvement of child and maternal health in Burundi to achieve sustainable development for communities of Burundi.
Doctor Tharcisse is very grateful to all the backers who have played a significant role and who continue to support him in the realization of his dream, in particular Barry Segal and Segal Family foundation as well as his friends and acquaintances. “Our deepest and heartfelt gratitude goes to Barry Segal. Our board staff has decided to dedicate him the first Pavilion of our medical clinic by writing his name Barry Segal on the wall where any passerby can easily read. We say thank you for everyone for their contribution, both moral and material. Thanks to you, the population of slums and suburbs will soon have access to health care close to home”, he concludes.