Long forgotten people with mental problems have found refuge in a charitable group, and are henceforth recognised in the society.
The aid is being necessitated by Cecile Umurazawase who claim to be fulfilling a promise she made to God during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda
Cecile Umurazawase with some of ill people
Umurazawase Cecile is a resident of Cyarwa cell, Tumba sector in Huye district. She takes care of mentally ill people from Tumba and Mukura sectors with the help of volunteers that joined her; she has formed a Health Care Foundation ‘Twite ku buzima’.
She started in March 2010 by taking home one mad woman better known as Mukashema who was eating from garbage with her two children in Butare district.
In line with her profession as a Clinical Psychologist, she secured a medical insurance (mituare) for Mukashema from global fund and confined her in a mental hospital in Butare town.
One following another, many people were treated and she handed every person to his or her family immediately from the mental hospital where she could teach their families how to care for the patients so that they regain quickly from mental illness.
After realising that the mentally ill are many and need attention too, the psychologist sought advise from the Ministry of Health on how she can achieve her goal. She was advised to create work for them because it makes the mentally ill feel recognised hence contributing to their healing.
After medical care, the patients are divided into groups depending on the sectors they come from. Mentally unstable people were put under cooperatives on sector level; in Tumba they formed Twigirire icyizere cooperative and doing poultry while those in Mukura sector formed Girubuzima cooperative and rearing goats. There are also women cooperative Susurukampinga for basketry.
All patients have one special day for cultivating in Buzana swamp where they grow all kinds of vegetables and whoever participates gets 800 Rwandan francs for labour per day.
Health Care Foundation Twite ku buzima cares for 328 patients with differing types of illnesses ; mental illness due to sickness, drug use effect, genocide trauma, and epileptic children. Care foundation works hand in hand with their families in care provision.
Although Health Care Foundation Twite ku buzima is successfully caring for a big number of people, many challenges are being faced and they include.
Most people rarely think that the mentally ill can be cured and should be treated like other normal people, which make it difficult for the volunteers in their work.
Sometimes the mentally sick have other diseases like Hypertension and diabetes. This makes it hard for the volunteers who hardly get enough money is required to treat these patients.
Ever since care foundation started, only two million Rwandan francs out of six million required have been donated from Huye district. There are those kind-hearted who gave out sewing machines and other materials from Kigali.
Mrs. Umurazawase says that her major request is not financial support but everybody’s understanding that mental illness can be treated and cured so that other volunteers come up to help from all over the country.
When asked if she will continue with this non profitable project, Umurazawase answered that”We don’t go to school to get jobs. We study to be useful to others,”
I once became discouraged when I heard that I will be worse when my patients become sick again but when I recalled my promise to God and what i had already done, I thought it would be a waste of energy to let them go back to their situation, added Umurazawase.
Huye district officials have encouraged her to continue and offered their support in the possible way available.