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All photo's for this piece are credited to: Jackson Quincy Nahayo

In 2015, Jackson Quincy Nahayo, a former tree planter, returned to Burundi, fifteen years after being stolen from his home and left for dead in the jungle. Jackson gathered support from generous donors in Canada, but his work tree planting provided the income needed to build his hospital. He purchased a plot of land in the rural province of Cibitoke, loaded a shipping container full of medical supplies and left Canada with a hopeful heart and eager dreams.

Since then, the hospital has grown to a level where it receives hundreds of visitors each day. From seed to spoon, Jackson’s family also grows the grain it uses to serve porridge as they strive to provide a holistic medical service with the best standards possible to their patients. The hospital also functions as a community centre for many in the surrounding areas. In 2017, it provided refuge for people fleeing another conflict. Jackson also performed as the first responder to those killed and injured by the massacre.

In early 2022, Jackson’s wife gave birth to a child who passed away only a few days later. Heartbreakingly, Jackson explained that had the child been born with access to Canadian medical services, he likely would’ve survived. Currently, the goals of the hospital are not only to be able to respond to unexpected crises but also to develop a stronger and more comprehensive maternity and birthing ward to ensure other families do not suffer in the way Jackson’s does. To achieve these goals, support from caring friends is needed.

The following is an excerpt from Nahayo: They Left Me for Dead,’ a book written by Dustin Unrau. Dustin planted with me and wrote a book about the accomplishments of Jackson Quincy Nahayo. Jackson also planted with me and became my then 4-year-old son's best friend in camp! His story is devastating and incomprehensible to most of us who grew up here, but it is also undeniably beautiful in what he's done with his planting earnings and life. He is a person that I look up to as being incredibly giving and motivated to improve our world!

Excerpt from Nahayo: They Left Me for Dead (Trigger Warning)


Read more of Jackson's story in Dustin Unrau's book 'Nahayo: They Left Me For Dead.'


A Tree Planter's Life-Saving Hospital in Burundi

It was on a particularly sunny day that Jackson finally opened up to me about where he came from and why he was here. (Excerpt from Nahayo)

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