A group of 11 students from the University College of Northern Denmark, led by their associate lecturer, Betina Ringby, have been in Rwanda on a mission to exchange knowledge and skills in physiotherapy.
Their initiative was a five-week programme that aimed at helping people living with disability. This was done in collaboration with King Faisal Hospital, among other institutions.
According to Ringby, the programme happens twice every year; she comes with a different group of students who get to interact with medical personnel, people living with disability, as well as their caretakers, and they exchange ideas and see how their lives can be changed for better.
Some of the beneficiaries of this programme are members of a dance club called Kubasha Dance Group that is made up of 11 people living with different forms of physical disability.
One of the leaders of this group, Amani Kiwembe, says that the group has been able to bring together different people with disability, and has helped them feel like worthy members of society.
“It has been of help because people with incapacities are always lonely as they are usually discriminated against, but providing a platform where they can meet and interact with others has been of much help,” Kiwembe said in an interview with The New Times.
Though the group is made of 11 incapacitated people, only six of them are actively involved.
“We are eleven in total but it is six who come here (at the youth centre located in Kimisagara) to train as the others can’t travel daily because of the kind of disabilities they have,” Kiwembe says.
Kiwembe notes that the group has been able to benefit a lot from the cooperation with these students, as some of the members of the group have been able to get prosthetic legs which have been of great assistance to them.
Ringby says that even though they do not provide direct monetary benefits, the partners sponsoring them have enabled them to carry out a social cause which has been really helpful, for example, the prosthetic legs have been able to transform the lives of many.
Paul Mugabe, one of the dancers, is grateful for the existence of the dance group and its partnership with the Danish students. He says that the group has helped him feel like he has a family because he gets to interact with people who are like him.
“Previously, I used to feel isolated because I was different from other people and I could see that, but when I got to know about the dance group and I joined, life has never been the same. We get to make money from gigs we perform at and also get to exercise which is good for the body,” he says.
Kiwembe says that many people living with disability ran to the streets and became beggars, or got into drugs, but such groups give meaning to their lives and help them feel like they are members of society.
Another project benefiting from this initiative is ‘Talking through Art and Heroes Day Care’ located in Gikondo, where a number of women living with disability come together to make locally made products that help them sustain their lives.