Jeanne d’Arc Mukamana is a 26-year-old mother with quadruplets; three daughters and a son. Gaella Isimbi was the first daughter to see the light of day during a caesarean section; she was followed by Joachim Pacis Ishimwe—the only son, then other daughters Gabriella Irebe and Joana Isaro followed.
Mukamana was born in 1984 in Muhima, Nyarugenge District in Kigali City. She was the fifth child among seven in the family of Jean Marie Vianney Sibomana and Bonifrida Mukandekezi who both perished during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. They lived in Kabuga at the time and luckily, Mukamana survived with four others.
On November 21, 2007, she got married to Eugene Munyandanguza and the young couple lived happily in Kimironko. Mukamana said it all came as a series of surprises until June 26, 2009 while at Kigali Central Hospital (CHK).
“Being my first pregnancy, everything seemed normal until the first time I visited the doctor,” Mukamana narrates.
She said: “At two months of pregnancy I went see the doctor since there were strange signs but I was later told if I hadn’t come earlier, I would have got a miscarriage. One month later, I went back for another check up.”
“The situation seemed to have become complicated the following month when Dr. Cyridion of Clinique Naroda told me that I would give birth to triplets after an ultrasound examination. He advised me to get regular checkups since it was important to monitor my pregnancy in order to avoid complications.”
“At seven months, I was hospitalised at Kigali Central Hospital (CHK) since Clinique Naroda had no maternity ward. According to the regular checkups, I was supposed to give birth at 36 weeks but my labour pangs came earlier at 32 weeks.”
“During this sensitive period another doctor, known as Dr. Joseph Byankandondera supervised my condition although he was at times stationed at King Faisal Hospital. This doctor told the nurses at CHK to call him if anything happened and when I got labour pains he was immediately informed.”
Mukamana was then moved to King Faisal Hospital, a private hospital in Kacyiru because the incubators at CHK were insufficient for the unborn babies. The hospital transfers gave rise to other issues since she did not have any other medical insurance besides the Mutuelle de Sante (Public Health Insurance) that is only used in public hospitals like CHK.
“While at King Faisal Hospital, my husband was given a document to take to the Ministry of Health, who footed the hospital bills. I was informed that it would be hard to give birth naturally because of the number of children in my womb, thus the doctor opted for a caesarean section.”
“An ultrasound was done to determine the position of the babies and I was told the operation would be done the following day. I did not know why they had changed the schedule.”
The following day, Mukamana was taken to the theatre, her lower body was numb from anaesthesia and the C-Section was performed. It was during the operation that she heard the doctor tell other surgeons in the room that I was expecting quadruplets.
“I was shocked but decided to be strong for the children’s sake,” Mukamana said.
It is one year since Mukamana had the quadruplets and she says raising them is still challenging. When one child falls sick, they are all affected. Mukamana is a housewife who solely depends on her husband’s small income.
However, they were advised to set up an account at Bank de Kigali (Ac No. 00040029472976) for financial support from well-wishers.
“We also received contributions after giving birth which included a Friesian cow from President Paul Kagame, Rwf 800,000 from the Ministry of Local Government and Rwf 100,000 from a priest from Kibungo.”
Dr Rusizana Janvier of Clinique La Triade took up the task of performing regular checkups on the children.
“I am very grateful for all the contributions and may God reward them abundantly,” Mukamana stresses.
In a phone interview with her husband Munyandanguza who is away in Ruhengeri for work, praises his wife for having been strong and supportive all this time.
“Even when I’m away due to the kind of work I do, I’m convinced everything is fine regardless of the number of children we have, given that it is difficult to take care of them,” Munyandanguza said.
The soft-spoken Mukamana has two house-cleaners who help her out with the children. Among the quadruplets, it’s only Joachim (the son) who is still breastfeeding while the rest do not. The jolly quadruplets are one year and two months old. They are not, however, identical twins.