What was originally intended to fill a gap year turned into a long-term project and life-long passion for GC alum Jonathan Golden.
The project began with Golden and his friend Zach Rader sitting on a sofa at the Bellamy. It was January 2018, and the two were both exercise science majors with a gap year between graduation and PT school. They were sitting together wondering what they could do for a year when Golden had an idea.
Several years ago, Golden had spent time in Rwanda interning for the Rwandan national cycling team. During his internship, he noticed a need for healthcare in the more remote districts.
He and Rader decided to pursue meeting that need, and together, they founded the nonprofit Do Good Health in 2018.
A month before traveling to Rwanda, the two sent emails to people in the remote community, asking them to get as many people out for health assessments as possible when they arrived.
“We had 3,000 show up [for health assessments],” Golden said. “We were able to test between two or three hundred.”
Now, one year later, DGH is set to build its first clinic in the district of Rutsiro by Lake Kivu. GC’s honor society, Eta Sigma Alpha, recently took on the nonprofit as its philanthropy.
Their model is that DGH builds and outfits the clinics, but the Rwandan government staffs, operates and supplies them. Additionally, organizations that partner with DGH and assist with funding sponsor rooms, wings and buildings in the clinics.
The ministry of health directors in Rwanda liked the DGH model so much that they offered Golden 99 lots of land in 99 other communities in Rutsiro. Immediately after the first clinic is complete, Golden intends to start fundraising and planning for a second clinic.
Involvement of the Rwandan government and health systems are key in making DGH’s model sustainable for remote districts like Rutsiro because 96 percent of Rwanda is covered by government health insurance.
“If we allowed the government to run and operate [the clinic], it would allow the people to use health insurance they already have and essentially get care for free,” Golden said.
The blueprints for the first clinic include an education room, which will be funded by ESA, Golden said.
“The education room will function as a place where community members can get free education on public health issues like hand washing and a place where students, [or] people from the U.S., can come and teach classes to the community or teach skills to the medical staff,” Golden said.
Golden’s time at GC has helped him in this journey because he “learned to have work ethic and how to put things together,” he said, among several other reasons.
As a student at GC, Golden was a supplemental instruction leader in the Learning Center under director Jeanne Haslam. His job was making session plans.
“[SI leaders] think about how to deliver difficult content easily and interactively,” Haslam said.
When he began planning for the education room in the clinic, Jonathan had to plan a curriculum for an audience ranging from preschoolers to the elderly, most of who are illiterate. The usual posters with written instruction would not work.
“But he could do short videos, and he could have monitors in the waiting room,” Haslam said. “He could have pamphlets that aren’t verbally written out with script but instead in pictorials.”
Senior public health major Zac Harrison is currently completing his internship with DGH.
“I didn’t want to go to an institution where a lot of the more ordinary internships are,” Harrison said. “Here I can really pursue whichever endeavors that will really get us to our ultimate goal, and that is to provide quality access of healthcare to a population that is in need.”
In the future, Harrison hopes to visit the completed clinic in Rutsiro.
Even though Americans are working towards building these clinics, Golden believes it is beneficial for the people to see that help is coming from the Rwandan government, especially in light of the recent civil war and genocides in Rwanda.
“It’s best for Rwanda that they see Rwandans are helping Rwandans, and even more so it’s best for people that they see the government is helping them,” said Golden. “So by allowing the government to operate it, more faith is going to be restored in the government, which I think is always positive.”