December Issue 2014

Page 53

Isabelle Kamariza - CEO Solid’ Africa What is the future of the Rwandan public healthcare and how can organizations such as Solid Africa facilitate the availability of adequate public health facilities for all?

Photo Credit: Illume Creative Studio

Food security in public hospitals remains the biggest challenge in the Rwandan public health system; as hospitals do not provide food and its cost is not included in the "mutuelle de Sante" insurance scheme.

When Isabelle Kamariza left Belgium where she was studying law to spend a three week vacation with her family in Rwanda, she had no idea she would be spending the next three years helping vulnerable patients in public hospitals. At first, it was her faith that drew her to visit patients at the Kigali University Hospital Centre (CHUK) for as she puts it “it is nice to always pray for the sick but that won’t bring them their daily bread”. When visiting the hospital, Isabelle was stunned by the despicable conditions in which some of the patients were living in : lack of food and hygiene products, so many patients could not go home because they did not have means to pay their medical fees or transport, others simply did not have enough to pay the necessary medicine for their recovery. That is when she decided to call upon friends and family in order to help—Solid’Africa was born. Today Isabelle is still the backbone of this initiative and runs the organization as the president. Since the beginning of the project, she has won the Young African Women Leaders Forum Award 2011 and the Imbuto fondation CYRWA 2013 . Solid'Africa has been nominated for other awards celebrating successful initiatives.

Solid'africa’s main purpose is to find a solution that will bring peace of mind to the most vulnerable patients and allow them to go seek treatment without any fear about their living conditions. We hope that one day we can ensure that everyone who goes sick and has limited means can go to any medical centre with an assurance of food availability. Currently we feed 300 patients for breakfast every day and lunch on Mondays at one of the biggest public hospitals in Kigali. In the near future we are going to build an industrial kitchen with the target to feed 1000 people twice a day with special diet meals. This project will target 5 main public hospitals in Kigali. And this is just a pilot project; if successful we will decentralize it. Food is a basic need and everyone should have access to it, especially when you are sick and with no means. We consider that it is everyone’s concern to make sure that his fellow Rwandese eats. If the government cannot have the means today to do it, it is because we are still a country with limited resources, but after the 3 years’ experience doing the work, I am convinced that it is possible, all that is required is for each one to be conscious that they can do it. Imagine if each person reading this could sponsor one person for a meal for one day, a 2 dollar meal. That could change someone’s life. It is also the right thing to do, any religion you can be in teaches you that you can only demonstrate love by caring for the less fortunate. We cannot ask our governments to do everything; we as the citizens, civil society and businesses, have the prerogative of looking at ways to transform our respective communities and to fill the gaps as needed.