It’s amazing what we don’t know about the world around us, even when we think we do. The pains in some people’s faces might not be so obvious, because their tears long dried- not because someone dried them, but because they can’t cry anymore. That moment when there’s no hope, despite the best efforts of well meaning people. RCKC is here to fix the world but friends, some things are so cheap its amazing that we do nothing about them.
On Saturday 14th Sept, the Rotaract team from Kampala Central joined the RCKC and fellow Rotaractors in Rwanda and marched into the Diabetics Education Center in Rwamagana- Rwanda. The idea was to visit these diabetics and hear their stories, find out how we can help and what we could learn from their conditions. We might as well have gone along with handkerchiefs.
When we arrived, we were received by very happy people, who gave each one of the 40 of us lollipops and sung for us while we sucked away. They sung like their lives depended upon it and we felt a kind of appreciation that made us proud to be rotaractors. We would never have guessed that it would be a hard evening. We might never fully comprehend how certain people manage through their hardships, and how they manage to smile but the least we can do is to listen. Apparently, that’s what meant the most for these people- someone to talk to. We were told they rarely ever get even one visitor from Kigali to swing by and say hello yet all of a sudden, we were 40! That explained their happiness- love is not expensive.
When we sat down to listen to their stories, some of them seemed to be horror stories that came straight out of the movies. It was surprising that many of these diabetics are stigmatized and sent out of their homes by parents. Some were sent away because their families couldn’t afford their treatment while others were thrown by the roadsides at a very early age to figure out their future. It was a pain to see these people being injected with insulin right in the middle of our sessions while others were given sugar to lick.
The stories are too many, their pains and anger evident in speech but the bleakness of their future best told in the tears that they shed. After all, the center’s program is insufficient to take care of them beyond the age of 25. At that age, they are supposed to move on and find some work to do. Earlier training in knitting and tailoring; hair styling, making bread and others is all the knowledge they have to survive in this dog-eat dog world. The center can only do so much and yet, the least you can do is to give up 5$ per year to cater for the medical insurance of just one kid. I trust this to be doable.
When we listened to their problems, and asked what we could do for them, none asked us for fish- they all asked us to help them to catch their own fish. Now, as RCKC, we intend to even supplement on their lessons at the center, and teach them more techniques for catching fish. We don’t have too much, but we can afford to forego 5$ per year. What can you do?
We will be arranging a fundraising drive to support these patients, with a car wash mega fundraising event on the 19th of October in Kigali. Rotaractors will wash your car at various rates. All online and offline assistance is very much welcome, be it in ideas, moral, physical, monetary or just simple prayers. The fact is that these people need us all.
The Diabetes Association of Rwanda was founded by Francois Gishoma, himself a diabetic in 1997 and the center to which we are focusing our energies as of now is the Diabetics Education Center in Rwamagana, 80kms outside Kigali City and was started in 2009 but has stepped up operations for the last two years.
The songs they sung for us were of joy and happiness, but that is because they were glad to finally have some visitors eating and drinking with them without stigmatization.
To the Rotaract Clubs of Kampala Central, Bweyogerere Namboole (Uganda), The Rotary Club of Kampala City (Uganda) and the resident Rotaract clubs in Rwanda. Thanks for selflessness and for the love- what you did will never be forgotten. RCKC and the diabetics are much appreciative and that’s all the support they needed.
As RCKC, we shall make it our commitment to cater to the plight of these people, because it could have been anyone of us. If not for conscience, religion or for the love of everything human- let’s take care of these people in respect of our commitment to serve. That’s the ROTARACT SIGNATURE. That’s our lot, our commitment without which we are but like the rest of them.
*“REMEMBER, UPON THE CONDUCT OF EACH DEPENDS THE FATE OF ALL” Alexander The Great.
Thanks for reading.