For 21 years, Georges Bwelle watched his ill father slip in and out of consciousness, traveling to hospitals that weren’t equipped to help him. “There were no neurosurgeons in Cameroon,” Georges Bwelle said. “We would have taken him out of Cameroon if we had the money.”
Instead, Bwelle spent years escorting his father to overcrowded clinics and hospitals, getting whatever treatment they could get. The situation hasn’t changed much since Bwelle’s father passed away in 2002.
In Cameroon, there is only one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. For comparison’s sake, the ratio in the United States is one doctor for every 413 people.
He became a doctor himself, working as a vascular surgeon in Yaounde’s Central Hospital. And he started a nonprofit, ASCOVIME, that travels into rural areas on weekends to provide free medical care. Since 2008, he and his group of volunteers have helped nearly 32,000 people.
Almost every Friday, he and up to 30 people jam into vans, tie medical supplies to the roofs and travel across rough terrain to visit villages in need and perform free surgeries.