Marnie Rickards from The DAK Foundation from Australia visited us at The Village Microclinic on July 25, 2023 at our headquarters located in Ntahangwa Commune, Gihosha Zone, Nyabagere District. Our founder Dr. Tharcisse Nshimirimana presented her how The Village Microclinic was created and its impact so far.
Dr. Tharcisse Nshimirimana tells Marnie Rickards from The DAK Foundation that The Village Microclinic plans to expand by building a second pavilion which will have 4 floors. This second pavilion will have different services like pediatrics, surgery, … Dr. Tharcisse informs that it will cost almost 1 million US dollars (1,000,000 USD) and that he has already started the fundraising and many people are helping to make it happen.
Talking about the sustainability impact of The Village Microclinic and how it is serving the community, Dr. Tharcisse tells Marnie Rickards that The Village Microclinic is committed to fight against malnutrition as the latter is generalized in the community it is serving.
To make the impact sustainable and contributes to the funding of its activities, The Village Microclinic has initiated the income generating activities amongst the nearby community. It is also producing chlorine which is sold to other hospitals and health centers that need it.
On Tuesday August 03, 2022, a delegation of the Gould Family Foundation paid a visit to The Village Microclinic. The objective of the visit was to congratulate The Village Microclinic for the progress made toward building the first Pavilion of the medical polyclinic and identify further ways of collaboration.
Dr. Tharcisse also mentionned some recommendations from the Ministry of public health and fight against AIDS about the construction.
Nevertheless, he confided that some challenges never lack though they are trying to find a way to overcome them.
The Gould Family Foundation’s delegation was composed of Deborah Aloyo, Manager Biomedical Programs and Operations, Alain Binamungu Heri, Lead Biomedical Technician-French Speaking Countries, and Justa Sindayigaya, Biomedical engineer for Burundi and Congo.
Dr Tharcisse Nshimirimana rejoices for that visit is in the line of improving health and well-being of less served communities.
The Village Microclinic was visited by the Segal Family Foundation delegation this Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Dr. Tharcisse Nshimirimana, the founder and CEO of The Village Microclinic had the opportunity to present to this delegation the activities already accomplished and other ongoing activity for the well-being of the community in slums and peri-urban areas.
To start, Dr. Tharcisse Nshimirimana indicated that the construction works of the premises of Rukundo Medical Polyclinic are going well and that after the agreement of the ministry in charge of health, this medical center will be inaugurated. He took this opportunity too to inform that some materials are missing.
Presenting to the Segal Family Foundation delegation how the Village Microclinic manufactures chlorine, Dr. Tharcisse Nshimirimana informed that this chlorine is distributed freely to places that welcome many people namely churches and schools for the disinfection of hands and toilets. Asked if a certain quantity of this chlorine cannot be sold so as to increase the income and chlorine production, Dr. Tharcisse replied that before the certification, it was a bit complicated but that now with the certification, it really is possible.
Informing the Segal Family Foundation delegation, Dr. Tharcisse Nshimirimana indicated that apart from the Rukundo Medical Polyclinic, a second large pavilion will be built to welcome a good number of patients from the suburbs and peri-urban areas who have to walk long distances to reach a health center.
This large pavilion will be built on five floors and will include the services of gynecology, pediatrics, hospitalization, internal medicine as well as a large laboratory.
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.