Dr. Dennis Dove, 65 will be coming to Rwanda on October 1, 2012 on a 12 month visit to help treat patients and teach Rwandan health workers through the program “Human Resources for Health” an Initiative of the Clinton Foundation.
As a specialist in trauma and acute-care surgery, he will be working at any teaching hospital in Kigali as well as teaching Rwandan medical students and residents in general.
Dr. Dove who recently retired from Texas Tech’s School of Medicine and Healthcare System, has been a professor of surgery and regional department chairman of surgery at Texas Tech’s School of Medicine in Amarillo, US since 1998.
He also has been the trauma medical director at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, specializing in acute-care surgery.
“He decided to venture Rwanda, where they are trying to rebuild the country and health access is severely limited in part because generations of personnel were lost in the genocide,” Dove said. “Programs are no longer functional because they lost all those folks.”
“The Rwandan government didn’t want any fly-in, fly-out mission,” Dove said. “They’ve had a bunch of those. They wanted something more sustaining.”
He will be moving to Rwanda with his wife Claudette, leaving his children behind.
“I thought he was cracked,” Claudette said. “I looked at him and say, ‘Where?’ Why?’ But I’ve always known he wanted to do something special (after retirement), and this is an excellent way to do this.”
“In essence, I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing here,” Dove said. “Medicine has always been my love, and teaching has been my passion.”
Dove knew he wanted to continue his life’s work, but that it would be in Rwanda might be a bit of divine intervention from the late Monsignor Joseph Tash, who died in May. Tash helped in securing Immaculee Ilibagiza, a best-selling author who survived the Rwandan holocaust, to speak in Amarillo.
“One of the last full conversations I had with Tash I was telling him about seeing her speak,” Dove said. “He said, ‘Well, maybe she was here for a purpose. Rwanda might be the place you want to go to do some of the things you want to do.’
“He said, ‘Check out Rwanda.’ I take that as a direct request from Tash, and he usually only had direct requests for folks.”
After seeing an advert on the Acute Care-Trauma Journal for the Rwanda project. It wasn’t long before he put his house on sell to prepare for the Rwandan trip.
“Doing this in a different setting for some people who obviously and clearly have declared their need for this makes all the sense in the world to me,” he said. “I don’t think anything like that has been tried in this context.”
“He’s a pretty rare individual. You take your hat off to those folks willing to truly engage in selfless service.”