Faces of Africa – Doctor on a mission

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Dr. Georges Bwelle (in white coat) is a visceral surgeon based in Cameroon and the Founder of ASCOVIME

 

Yaoundé is the capital of Cameroon with a population of approximately 2.5 million. It’s the second largest city in the country after the port city, Douala.

The only largest hospital is the Central Hospital of Yaoundé (Hospital Central de Yaoundé) with only 650 beds.

Dr. Georges Bwelle is a visceral surgeon based in Cameroon and works at Yaoundé Central hospital.

Dr. Georges Bwelle (in white coat) is a visceral surgeon based in Cameroon and the Founder of ASCOVIME

George started his medical journey in 1990 when he enrolled as a medical student at Yaoundé Teaching Hospital and graduated in 1995. His good performance awarded him a scholarship for visceral surgery in Belgium. Visceral surgery focuses on internal body organs.

His passion to be a medical doctor and surgeon came from the experience he had with his dad and the words his dad told him. He narrates how his dad was sick and used to accompany him to the hospital for treatment. His father once told him, “Please when you’re going to be a doctor, take care of people who have no means to see a specialist”.

Georges eventually came up with an organization called ASCOVIME. An organization that focuses on bettering lives of people.

Georges using a flashlight to perform a surgery in one of the rural areas. This is one of the problems the group encounters. Most areas are served by diesel-generated electricity or have no electricity at all in Cameroon.

ASCOVIME group works every weekend, visiting various villages in Cameroon where health facilities are rare and expensive. They provide health services that include free surgeries and supply of medicine. The team has since grown to a bigger team where they have volunteers coming in large numbers each year from all over the globe.

“I heard about this from 2nd year students who were here last year saying the experience was incredible and I came this year to experience it too. Georges mission to bring healthcare and education to Cameroonian rural areas is inspiring and has drawn me here,” said Katelyn Mcalister, an American volunteer.

Georges explains that in the initial stages, he had to fund the organization with his own cash which was not so much. His friends volunteered to give their cars and George would fuel them. With time, he was able to get more volunteers giving cars, offering to cater for fuel and that started easing things out.

Georges and his team of volunteers after a rural area weekend campaign.

Jean Zambo is one of the Patrons of ASCOVIME who is also a banker and never misses the weekend tours to rural areas despite his busy schedule. He heads ACEP a micro finance company and donates his four trucks to ASCOVIME every single weekend.

Jean says, “I met Georges during a campaign and I was moved by what he was doing, I asked the institution what we (ACEP) would do to help ASCOVIME in their work throughout the country and we offered transport”.

Children displaying books and pens donated to them by ASCOVIME.

Georges does private surgeries and also teaches at a medical school.

Despite the smooth running of the organization, there are many issues that the team faces while on medical camps such as lack of power which is a pertinent issue in the rural areas. They often use flash lights or generators.

After every medical campaign, the ASCOVIME team provides learning materials such as books and pens to the children they meet in the villages.

ASCOVIME has made Georges be recognized locally and globally. In 2013 he was named one of the CNN Heroes.

Sharing is caring and therefore Georges will continue sharing what he has and also helping the poor as his late dad instructed him.

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