In this instalment of our interview series: Five Minutes, we talk to Dr Scott Kellermann, Founder of The Kellermann Foundation. Dr Scott Kellermann, and his wife Carol Kellermann, operate community outreach programmes with an aim to provide resources for health, education, spiritual outreach and economic empowerment.
Kellermann works with the Uganda Nursing School Bwindi. The school, created in 2013 by the Bwindi Community Hospital, offers diplomas and certificates in Nursing and Midwifry.
We caught up with Dr Scott Kellermann to learn more about him and to find out what advice he would like to impart.
This is Five Minutes with Dr Scott Kellerman, on the Fight Malaria Blog.
Q: What is your biggest life lesson or key takeaway from this interview that you would like to stick with readers?
Success and sustainability can only be achieved through a collaborative effort.
Q: Briefly tell us what the Uganda Nursing School Bwindi is.
The Uganda Nursing School is one of three programs developed to assist the population of southwestern Uganda to extricate themselves from their cycle of poverty. We have a particular focus on attending to the plight of the Batwa pygmies of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. In order to address the lack of health providers in the region, a nursing school was constructed in 2014 which now trains 280+ students towards becoming registered nurses. Most health care delivery in rural sub-Saharan Africa is provided by nurses as doctors are exceeding scarce and typically gravitate to the urban areas. The Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH), initiated in 2004, is now a 122 bed full service institution which serves a population of >100,000. BCH also offers training to medical students and residents from around the globe. BCH has educated over 500 village health promoters who are the hospital’s eyes, ears and feet on the ground. Working with these village health promoters, a major success has been achieved in the reduction of malaria in the area. Tens of thousands of bed nets have been distributed resulting in a >90% decline in malaria rates. The Batwa Development Program was created to assist the Batwa with education (3 schools with 750 students), home building and land acquisition (300+ acres and 200+ homes built), water/sanitation projects (diarrhoea rates reduced by 50%). Together these programs have drastically reduced the disease burden in the area.
Q: Can you tell us more about yourself? What is your passion?
I am a family practice physician with a sub-specialty in tropical medicine and public health. My passion is creating the narrative of the possible.
Q: What advice would you give to others wanting to start a social enterprise or nonprofit organization?
Perseverance, politeness and patience. Spending considerable time and effort developing relationships pays huge dividends in the long run. The work of poverty alleviation is multivariable, complex and can be draining. The results of one’s best efforts can be poor. However with collaboration, there is the potential of not only success but sustainability. Additionally, with sharing the burdens of failures, peace can be found in the most challenging circumstances.
Q: What were your biggest challenges up until now?
As a hunter/gatherer culture, the Batwa pygmies have a tendency to live in the moment and communicate predominately in the present tense. We in the west have a proclivity to dwell in the past or future, ruminating about past poor decisions or anxiety fostered by what the future might bring. Although strategic planning and goal setting can be exceedingly problematic with the Batwa, living in the moment brings a great measure of joy.
Q: What are your happiest moments with the Uganda Nursing School Bwindi?
Every morning the hospital/nursing staff, nursing students and patients join in singing, worship and sharing as they prepare for the challenges of the day. It is a remarkable bonding experience and one that generates wholehearted collaboration.
Q: What future do you hope to create through your work with the Uganda Nursing School Bwindi?
Improved health for the region, changing and saving ligves. In the process the patient’s and health care provider’s mind, body and soul has the potential to thrive.
Q: How can readers participate in helping you achieve this future?
By coming alongside as collaborators, sharing your skills, building relationships and in the process exploring the depths of what is possible.
N.B. Dr Scott Kellermann’s responses to the questions above have been dubbed by a vocal actor in the audio version of this article.