Today’s guest brings a story of the kindness of strangers, peace building and the pursuit of dignity. Deogratias “Deo” Niyizonkiza was born in rural Burundi. He fled Burundi during the catastrophic war that lasted more than a decade and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. He ended up in New York City, not knowing English or with a place to go. He found himself homeless in Central Park. Through the kindness of a stranger, Deo worked his way out of homelessness. He eventually enrolled at Columbia University, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and philosophy. He then attended the Harvard School of Public Health, and completed his medical studies at Dartmouth Medical School. Deo had a vision for change and believed in the power of peacebuilding and community as part of the solution. He founded Village Health Works, which is providing quality, dignified health care while also addressing the root causes of illness, poverty, violence, and neglect within his home community of Kigutu, Burundi. This work has set an example for countries and organizations across the globe.
This episode is hosted by Kristin Srour.
Deo’s inspiring life story is told in Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder’s book, Strength in What Remains.