PIH's team in Rwanda bids adieu to a social justice leader.

Congressman Donald Payne (second from the left) talks with PIH Rwanda Country Director Peter Drobac (left).

By Antoinette Habinshuti, Deputy Country Director, Inshuti Mu Buzima

Those of us at PIH's partner site in Rwanda, Inshuti Mu Buzima (IMB) were deeply sad to hear of the passing of U.S. Congressman Donald Payne.

In early September 2011, Congressman Payne (D-NJ) visited our work in Rwanda. He and a congressional delegation toured Butaro Hospital, a flagship facility operated in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health. They also visited some of the families supported by the organization’s network of community health workers.


Congressman Donald Payne (in the blue shirt) touring Butaro Hospital last fall.

We were privileged to have spent this time with Congressman Payne in what was one of his last visits in Africa. After spending many years of his life fighting for the rights of the under-privileged in Africa, he seemed to truly appreciate PIH’s approach.

We were honored that he chose to visit our district; we take it as a sign of recognition of our work to improve the health care of the communities we are serving, in partnership with the community themselves and with the leadership of the district. 

Congressman Payne was a very friendly person, very informed and committed to global health and funding for Africa.  During his visit, Congressman Payne said, “I applaud the work that Partners In Health is doing and am encouraged by the positive results I witnessed.” These words will remain a motivation for our continued work.   

Congressman Payne’s memory will forever live with us at IMB.

Read the New York Times obituary for Congressman Donald Payne.