In Uganda, desperate families were once served by the grace of a Virginia missionary who opened a home to save severely malnourished children. Today, the Ugandan mission no longer exists after a campaign from woke activists shut down the clinic, in large part because the American running it was white.
Renee Bach became the subject of a three-part HBO docuseries out in September chronicling the controversy that surrounded the nonprofit she started in 2009 at the age of 19 called “Serving His Children” (SHC). Bach explains in the documentary how her Christian faith inspired her to move to Uganda to run the mission center.
“I had never wanted to be like a ‘missionary,'” she said. But a sermon at the end of high school from someone named Clayton King compelled her to travel across the Atlantic on a mission trip to Uganda. The documentary aired audio from that sermon.
“If tonight you’re tired of playing it safe and you’re tired of being predictable and you wanna say, ‘God, I’m gonna go wherever you send me.’ … We are aware that there is a world in need,” King said.
“I honestly don’t know what came over me because it was just like, so overwhelming,” said Bach, who went on to join a volunteer program in 2007 that included other teen girls. Two years later, Bach was opening her own nonprofit to serve Ugandan children in need.
But according to the documentary, what started simply as a feeding program quickly morphed into Bach providing complex medical care as impoverished families showed up with dying children.
“I think my mind just started kind of spinning a little bit,” she said, “realizing OK, maybe malnutrition, rehabilitation. This is something that we could really dig into as an organization that would meet a need that isn’t already being fully met in this area.”
Bach went on to turn Serving His Children into a full-time malnutrition rehab center. But years later, Bach’s mission became the target of online activists outraged by white philanthropy.
‘No White Saviors’
“No White Saviors” is a far-left group that specializes in tarring white missionaries to Africa as irredeemably racist. The group is shown in the docuseries as developing its audience and donor network after it began to exploit internal strife at Bach’s Ugandan clinic.
Jackie Kramlich, a volunteer nurse, left Serving His Children over concerns related to Bach’s medical competency. Kramlich began to organize against Bach with blog posts outlining frustrations with clinic leadership that included allegations of medical malpractice. By the summer of 2018, Bach was the subject of online posts from No White Saviors claiming she was guilty of “manslaughter with a side of white privilege” and “neocolonialism.”
“At first, with No White Saviors,” Bach said, “I kind of like, laughed it off, like, ‘Oh yeah, she’ll be on to somebody else tomorrow, so whatever.'”
“But I pretty quickly became their poster child,” Bach added. As the docuseries shows, soon the online harassment campaign provoked death threats that forced Bach to flee the country. The far-left group continued to rake in clicks and donor dollars that ultimately led activists to orchestrate a lawsuit against the Christian missionary.
No White Saviors recruited Primah Kwagala, a Ugandan attorney, to find parents of children served by Bach’s clinic who ultimately died. The activist group wanted to sue the mission as responsible for kids’ deaths — in an impoverished region where severe childhood sickness is common. Kwagala found two mothers willing to blame Bach for their children’s deaths in a Ugandan court.
Bach’s mother, who was the director of the Serving His Children board, said she was shocked to find that the human rights statutes cited “were really written for war crimes” and “not mothers who took their child to a clinic.” According to the docuseries, when the clinic suffered a brief closure over a licensing issue, during which time several children died, Bach’s mother pulled together the clinic’s data and reported that of the 940 children treated by Serving His Children over a six-year period, 105 total children did not survive their severe acute malnutrition — a mortality rate of 11 percent. Meanwhile, a study of patients with the same condition at Uganda’s largest children’s hospital revealed the hospital’s mortality rate was 14 percent. Opponents of the Christian mission, however, were more fixated on Bach’s skin color than her efforts to save starving kids.
Obsessed with Skin Color
No White Saviors continued to make posts centered on Bach’s skin color. It portrayed her as the epitome of white privilege, disguised by selfless service.
Even the Ugandan attorney who represented the parents of deceased children was left bewildered by the activism of the far-left revolutionaries.
“No White Saviors, I believe that they had a different objective than we did,” said Kwagala, who filed the civil suit for the Ugandan mothers.
Bach and her charity ultimately settled with the mothers in 2020, agreeing to pay about $9,300 each, along with no admission of liability for the infant deaths. Bach also announced the same month that Serving His Children would be dissolved, with services no longer available to sick children desperate for treatment.
No White Saviors no doubt counts Serving His Children as a feather in its cap, a white-run nonprofit demonized as a neocolonialist organization that served no other purpose than to assuage some form of white guilt. But Bach was just a Christian missionary who was answering a spiritual call, even if she made mistakes and couldn’t restore every child she served. At the end of the day, Bach will go on living with her family in Virginia. It will be the sick kids in Uganda who suffer from the woke-led destruction of her mission.