Is HBO's 'Savior Complex' Giving an Unnecessary Platform to Renee Bach? Some Think So

Renee Bach is a U.S. missionary with no medical training who traveled to Uganda under the guise of helping children. But things took a tragic turn.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Sep. 15 2023, Published 2:54 p.m. ET

Savior Complex doc
Source: HBO

Savior Complex

The Gist:

  • Renee Bach is a U.S. missionary who opened up a nonprofit in Uganda to help malnourished children.
  • While there over 100 children died after being treated at her facility.
  • An HBO documentary about Bach is facing backlash on social media.
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According to ABC News, 19-year-old Renee Bach "set up a Christian nonprofit, Serving His Children, in southeast Uganda," in 2009. Two years prior, she visited the country for 10 months on a mission trip and felt as if she was being called back. The goal of her nonprofit was to provide "free meals to families in need, then offering free inpatient and outpatient treatment for malnourished children as well as community engagement programs aimed at breaking the cycle of malnutrition."

In the five years they were there, from 2010 to 2015, "Bach says the center took in 940 children, of whom 105 died," per NPR. This would result in several lawsuits as Bach has no formal medical training. A new HBO documentary called Savior Complex takes a deeper look at this story, but some believe it might cast Bach in too forgiving a light. Where is Renee Bach now? Here's what we know.

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Renee Bach in Uganda
Source: HBO

Renee Bach in Uganda

Where is Renee Bach now? She is no longer with Serving His Children.

In July 2020, Bach "settled a lawsuit brought against her in Ugandan civil court by two women and a civil rights organization," per NPR. Gimbo Zubeda's son Tawalali Kifabi as well as Kakai Annet's son Elijah Kabagambe both died at their respective homes after being treated at a Serving His Children facility. Bach and the charity were ordered to pay "9,500 to each of the mothers, with no admission of liability."

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Less than a year later in January 2021, The Guardian reported that four more Ugandan families were seeking compensation via a lawsuit and were hoping for a public apology from Bach. "The suit also requests the court to order criminal sanctions against Bach," reported the outlet. Robert Okot, a lawyer defending the families, told The Guardian, "We hope there will be justice for these affected families, and that it will be a deterrent measure for people who abuse development work." As of the time of this writing, no new information is available.

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As of April 2020, Bach was back home in Virginia with her two daughters she adopted while living in Uganda. Serving His Children has since been dissolved. She told the New Yorker that Virginia wasn't a viable option in terms of living because "It’s actually still pretty racist around here." Both of her sisters living in California which is where Bach has considered moving. "I want to be in a place where I could live a life of service again," she said.

People on social media are taking issue with HBO's 'Savior Complex.'

Olivia N., who goes by @wondrwomxn on TikTok, posted a video about HBO's Savior Complex documentary. Unfortunately in a subsequent TikTok, she revealed that her original video critiquing the series was pulled by TikTok. "I guess my Black rage is just too much for TikTok," said Olivia. She then asked viewers to head to HBO's social media platforms in order to share how they feel about the documentary series. People in the comments pointed out that Olivia's TikTok was very much active and can be viewed here.

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A search for "Renee Bach" and "Savior Complex" on TikTok will pull up a ton of similar videos. Several creators are calling for the cancellation of the documentary, pointing out the fact that Bach is getting a huge platform to tell her story. It centers a white woman in a scenario where over 100 Black children died. That's not who the focus should be on.

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