event highlights

Dr. Hawa Abdi Speaker Series with Dr. Raphael Tshibangu

Dr Tshibangu shared excerpts from his memoir Can’t let go: A journey from the heart of Africa to America and guided us on his development journey, tracing back from his home country Congo to his current home in the USA. To quote his advice to the engaged participants, “Whatever your aspirations, whatever your dream. Never quit. Do whatever you must. Never quit”.

Published: 12 December 2021

We listened to the man whose name is on one of the ALA rooms: the Tshibangu Room, as he imparted words of wisdom and experience. Dr Tshibangu shared stories of a journey that wasn’t easy but is all the more rewarding and has been worthwhile. As an OBIGYN he has delivered over 8,000 babies.

 

Life and career can keep one forever busy, and with all that pressure Dr. Tshibangu creates time to travel, practice yoga and play golf.
His career journey was not an accidental one, it started with awareness of a prevailing situation when he was 16. As Dr Tshibangu says, “In high school, I became aware of the malnutrition, cholera, and premature deaths that were preventable”. This then saw him formulating what he called “My Congolese Dream”, a dream to alleviate some of the suffering around him.

In pursuit of his dream, Dr Tshibangu went to the USA and studied at Amherst College then at University of Rochester Medical Center. Circumstances had him stay in the US and help his countrymen from a distance. In 2001he started RTST foundation which delivered equipment and medication sent to clinics in the Congo. All these mind-opening experiences are captured in his memoir Can’t Let Go: A Journey From The Heart of Africa to America.

 

An interesting idea from the meeting was: It’s possible to have two homes. To quote Dr Tshibangu, “I have two homes, one home in my heart, the Congo which is where I was born, have primary connections and have strong emotional attachments. The United States is also my home. I have lived here for 51years and 46 of those in Wochester”.

 

Dr Tshibangu introduced a concept of enlightened loyalty to both homes. Being able to see the things the countries are doing great and where there is still room for improvement. Humor is also a central part of how Dr Tshibangu faces different circumstances some of which are terrifying. As someone who would “rather laugh than cry” this has helped him cope with situations beyond his control.

In closing Dr Tshibangu advised young people to read widely and often introspect themselves. If anyone puts in a little more effort they are more likely to succeed. A final thought was on respecting everyone because even the dull and ignorant have their own story.

 

Written by Mufaro Dube, AL for Health Network member.

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