Diane Mukamulisa, a resident of Kagondo 2, Nyarutarama, a Kigali suburb, is a 30-year-old single mother of five children, two of whom are plagued by multiple severe disabilities that have left them unable to talk. They live with severe neurological and skeletal deficiencies.
Darius Mutuyimana, 7, and Alice Mutoni Uwase, 5, may have difficulty in many ways but their desire for love and affection, happiness and acceptance is ever present.
A year ago, Mukamulisa’s husband abandoned her, Darius, and Mutoni, whom they share together, along with Mukamulisa’s other children, because of the “unbearable” disabilities their children were born with. This forced Mukamulisa to give up her previous job of selling onions and tomatoes to beg on the streets so as to fend for her children.
Mukamulisa feels lucky when she makes Rwf 5,000 and considers herself “very lucky” when she makes Rwf10,000. With her rent set at Rwf15,000 a month, her supposed luck barely gets Mukamulisa’s family by and with the arrival of her sister and two nieces two months ago, who themselves are fleeing domestic violence, Mukamulisa’s hardships have only grown heavier.
With nine people under her care, Mukamulisa says there is never any money left to afford other basics like clothes for her children and herself. She, therefore, relies on donations from well-wishers.
However, the most unfortunate time is when she runs out of money.
During these times, Mukamulisa often goes hungry, ensuring that the children are fed at least once a day. On a good day, their meals consist of posho, rice, beans, greens, and Isambaza (small fish).
Medical treatment for her children is one of the major challenges she faces. She pays anywhere between Rwf2,000 to Rwf7,000 per prescription, she says.
Mukamulisa’s story is one marred by betrayal, loss, hardship and pain. It is almost impossible to think of any positive moments that can come with such a life. However, she still prays daily and thanks God that her two, special ones can eat on their own and that Mutuyimana can use the bathroom on his own. But Mutoni needs to wear diapers. Perhaps even more remarkable and awe-inspiring is that Mukamulisa can still find happiness among the debris and rubble of a crumbling home and a strained life.