EuropeStoryDisabled in Rwanda by Lukasz Sokol

Despite fast growing economy, 39,1% of population in Rwanda lives below poverty line. Over 80% of Rwandans lives in rural areas. As most of them can not afford health insurance, access to health care is limited.
19475 min

Despite fast growing economy, 39,1% of population in Rwanda lives below poverty line. Over 80% of Rwandans lives in rural areas. As most of them can not afford health insurance, access to health care is limited.

It specially effects people with disabilities. The state has no program to provide assistance to the disabled. It does not provide medicines or special medical care. There are no qualified people who can help the disabled who can only dependent on their relatives.

The help comes with aid programs ran by missionaries.Polish missionaries from Nyakinama, Sisters of the Holy Angels are supporting over 70 children with many different disabilities. They participate in Heart Adoption program ran by Maitri Movement (polish AID  organization). In this program each child is supported by and individual donor. They stay in contact writing letters to each other. Many families form the program lives kilometers away form the mission, ofter in up in the hills.

2 volunteers visit all the children twice a month. Sometimes the cach to climb steep footpaths for 2 house just to visit one family, The bring them medicine, evaluate their state. They also organize food distribution. Every two weeks parents (mostly mothers)are gathering in distribution center in Nyakinama. Many of them carries their children on their back as they cannot be left alone at home.

Families receive product like flour, maize, oil, soap, dried fish.Sisters an Maitri provide them wheelchairs or special seating chairs, finance the necessary treatments and operations. Without it they would be skazani na suffering and vegetation.

Their world and condition they live in is so different, even unthinkable form the northern world point of view. But there is one thing that these to realities share in common. It is the love and dedication for their disabled children. Despite of all the misery and difficulties they are bond they families being source of love and joy. All the aid  is the minimum that, apart from the love of their loved ones, restores them a dignified life.

About Lukasz Sokol

Lukasz Sokol (1981) lives and works in Warsaw. Graduated from the European Academy of Photography. Completed his diplomas under Tomasz Tomaszewski’s and Izabela Jaroszewska’s supervision. Graduated from the Leon Kozminski Academy of Management and Entrepreneurship. His main interest is in reportage, portrait and architecture photography. He cooperates with NGO’s, corporations, polish and international press. Lecturer at the Nikon Academy in Warsaw.

He realized his photographic projects in Australia, USA, Africa, India and Europe and they were published among many polish and international magazines like:  “The Sunday Times Magazine”, “Australian PhotoJournalist”,  “Marie Claire Hungary”, “Photo RAW”, “La Vie”, “GEOlino”, “GIOIA”, “Duzy Format”, “Wysokie Obcasy”, “Polityka”, “Zwierciadlo”, “Sens” and “Tygodnik Powszechny”. [Official Website]

Odule (9 years old) held by her mother outside their house, suffers strong epilepsy and mental disability. She spends her days sitting in a special chair founded by charity organization or being carried by her mother on her back. They live in deep poverty. No field to cultivate, no animals. Mother stays at home, father works cultivating other people fields. The state has no program to provide assistance to the disabled. It does not provide medicines or special medical care. There are no qualified people who can help the disabled who can only dependent on their relatives.
The help comes with aid programs ran by missionaries. Mburabuturo, Musanze District, Rwanda

Sandrine, 13 years old. Abandoned by her mother after she was born. She lives by her grandmother among 3 other children. Sandrine requires constant care as she suffers from quadriplegia and epilepsy. Nyarutembe, Nyabihu District, Rwanda

Adeline Niragire (12 years old) is finishing her class at primary school in Nyakinama, Rwanda. Albinism is the cause of her strong myopia. To read from the blackboard, she must always sit on the first bench. In Rwanda there are not prejudices against Albinos. Unlike in other countries it is not a source of ridicule, discrimination, or violence.

Anaclet (13 years old) at his bedroom. He lives with 4 siblings and parents in house with no electricity and running water. They are farmers. 
Rurembo, Nyabihu District, Rwanda.

Joyeuse (12 years old) held by her mother outside their house in Cyivigiza, Rwanda. They are family of 6. Despite all their problems (no water, no electricity, no field to cultivate) they say that Jouyeuse is a great source of joy for their family. Cyivugiza, Musanze District, Rwanda.

Josiane, 13 years old, brought by her sister to polish missionaries, Sisters of the Holy Angels. They are going to sew her a special belt that will prevent Josiane to fall of the wheelchair.   She has epilepsy, she is not able to walk. She seats in wheelchair or in bad. It gives her great joy when her sister runs pushing her wheelchair. Nyakinama, Rwanda

Claire (9 years old) with her mother and siblings. She has epilepsy and mental disability.She spends her day seating in a special chair or is being carried on her mother’s back. Nyagahongo, Nyabihu District, Rwanda.

Turikumwenayo Felicien (6 years old), at his house in Ruyumba, Rwanda where hi lives with his parents and 7 siblings. 4 of them were born with albinism  which makes their life much harder. Lack of skin pigmentation makes for more susceptibility to sunburn and skin cancer. It is also a cause of their myopia. In Rwanda there are not prejudices against Albinos. Unlike in other countries it is not a source of ridicule, discrimination, or violence. Ruyumba, Musanze District, Rwanda

Bertina, 19 years old. She has 6 sisters and a brother. 4 of the children has albinism. She has a problem of inequality of legs and albinism.She is finishing high school. She wants to go to University and be a business woman. Ruyumba, Musanze District, Rwanda

Kevine (7 years old)  is training walking with a help of her mother.The wooden walking support was constructed by Kevines father. She suffers from epilepsy and mental disability.Ruyumba, Musanze District, Rwanda

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