Ori And Britta
“When we walked together for the first time, it was evening and we strolled through the market at the Korle Bu Campus of Accra University. I remember the small fire lanterns illuminating the vendors’ smiling faces and it was clear at that moment that we had found our soulmate.” – Britta
Ori And Britta
Psychiatrist Dr. Ori Shwarzman and pediatric surgeon Dr. Britta Budde-Schwartzman, met in in Accra, Ghana in 1991
Ori worked as a doctor in Asankrangwa Mission Hospital, and Britta was a German third-year medical student. Ori stayed in Ghana for one year and Britta for two semesters before each returned to their respective countries. Their relationship blossomed, and five years later, after getting married in Germany, they went to live in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The couple’s love for Ghana never left them. In 1999 they returned with their two-year-old daughter, Amarell, to work voluntarily for two years as general practitioners in the Ghanaian rain forests. From their base at St. John of God Hospital, which is in a sparsely populated Western Region of Ghana, Ori and Britta realized that, although primary care was given to patients, there were no specialists to deal with specific ailments. This led them to the idea of establishing a professional Mobile Clinic.
For those who live in the developed world, it is hard to grasp the significance and the scale of this ambition. To put it into context: when Ori and Britta started the Mobile Clinic, there were still only four practicing psychiatrists and one pediatric surgeon in Ghana to support a country of (then) 25 million inhabitants.
Working as general practitioners between 1999 and 2001 gave Ori and Britta a good insight into the types of diseases that existed in the remote areas and suitable treatment methods. They were able to treat countless infants and children with
anemia, malaria, typhoid fever, diphtheria, cholera, or AIDS. Tragically, they also watched helplessly as babies died in their mother’s arms from curable diseases, such as incarcerated inguinal hernia, due to lack of surgeons and medical equipment. These babies might have been saved if surgery had been possible.
Ori and Britta witnessed the misery of the children and adults suffering from neurological and mental disorders caused by tropical infections and AIDS. These people not only suffered from their illnesses but were also segregated by their social group, giving them no option but to flee into the rainforest, where many of them starved.
Motivated by their desire to make a difference, Ori and Britta returned to Israel in 2001 to allow Britta to complete her training in pediatric surgery. When they arrived back in Ghana in 2007, they felt ready to fulfill their now longstanding ambition to improve access to pediatric surgery and psychiatry services. After a lot of hard work and determination, the Gye Nyame specialist Mobile Clinic was born.
By this time, Ori and Britta had three children, with whom they lived in one of the small villages in the forest without running water or electricity. In every way, these pioneering medics had become part of their local community in Ghana.
By 2012, before Ori and Britta returned to Israel, the Gye Nyame Mobile Clinic had become self-sufficient enough to function daily without them and management was handed over to the now experienced local team. . Since then, both doctors have returned every month to renew medicines and equipment, supervise the clinic and perform surgical operations, run seminars and workshops, manage and to fundraise.
Ori and Britta’s involvement with improving healthcare in Ghana and elsewhere is by no means complete. These days they concentrate their efforts on training and equipping others with the right knowledge, leaving them more time to achieve their ambition of extending medical provision to improve the lives of an increasing number of Ghanaians.
In 2015, Ori and Britta were granted the Award for Sustainability and Good Governance by SID Israel, Israel’s roof-body for International Development organizations.