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Deo Niyizonkiza

Deo with young boy outside

Deogratias Niyizonkiza’s personal story is about as powerful as they come. 

While the details of his story have been chronicled in biographies and TED Talks, what resounds for us is how much it has shaped his role and legacy in the work he does today. He transformed his hardships into healing and growth – starting with a village, Kigutu, and now for a country, Burundi – through a guiding principle that “where there is health, there is hope.”

Deo’s approach is unique because he realizes how much is involved in delivering healthcare to people, especially in a community devastated by civil war. Through the process of constructing Village Health Works (VHW), there was reconciliation and purpose and, according to Paul Farmer, an unparalleled level of community participation.

This year, Deo is ensuring that VHW strengthens its mission, which is not just about delivering quality healthcare but also about addressing the root causes and the social factors of illness, disease, and violence. In 2014, Kigutu families will also benefit from expansions in the early childhood education program. VHW is also in the process of establishing a state-of-the-art women’s health pavilion. It will be a major step in bringing this region the surgical facilities needed to deliver babies under emergent conditions. Given that the local hospital is more than a two-hours’ drive, the health centre will quite literally be a life-saving addition to VHW’s health services.

WATCH Deo thoughtfully guide an organization that is truly created by and for the people it serves.

(Photo courtesy of Village Health Works)


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