Rwanda, located in the eastern part of sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the countries that has achieved remarkable economic and social growth in the 21st century. Through active economic activities, it recorded a steep average annual economic growth rate of 7.2% for ten years until 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, with the government's active efforts for social integration, it has achieved stable security centered around the capital Kigali and ranked in the top 6 in the Global Gender Gap Index in 2022, demonstrating social progress as well.
However, behind Rwanda's remarkable development, there are painful histories and scars. According to the 2019 Rwandan census, there are over 450,000 persons with disabilities in Rwanda, and a significant number of them are survivors of the painful history of the country, the genocide. The indiscriminate and ruthless genocide against the Tutsi and moderate Hutu in 1994 caused the death of nearly 800,000 people.Moreover, the surviving survivors live with disabilities due to severe physical injuries and psychological trauma.
The survivors have to wait for more than six months to receive prosthetics or artificial limbs. According to a survey by the Rwandan Ministry of Health in 2020, there are only 16 rehabilitation centers with artificial limb facilities throughout the country, and more than half of them are concentrated in Kigali, the capital. Considering the growing demand for amputees due to recent diseases and accidents, the accessibility of relevant facilities is very limited indeed. It is necessary to supply artificial limbs and support their self-reliance as soon as possible so that they can return to the community.
Angelique, the first female prosthetic engineer in Rwanda, started her self-reliance project, Ortho-Promed with a desire to help people with disabilities. Growing up with the tragedy, she witnessed her parents, brothers, and children living without one leg or arm, struggling to find stable jobs due to their disabilities. With a strong desire for their self-reliance and rehabilitation, Angelique became the first female prosthetic engineer in Rwanda and established Ortho-Promed in 2016, a rehabilitation center that promotes prosthetics for people with physical disabilities.
With the belief that "disability is not inability," Angelique and Ortho-Promed provide customized prosthetics and orthotics, to various customers, including survivors. These are tailored to each individual's specific needs, and the production process is much faster than that of public hospitals. While patients may have to wait from six months to eight months at public hospitals, Ortho-Promed's prosthetics are completed in just two weeks and delivered to the customer.
These custom-made prosthetics have significance beyond just being walking aids. For those who previously struggled to secure stable jobs or income due to physical disabilities, the prosthetics provide a chance to walk again and obtain employment. Thanks to these custom-made prosthetics, they are able to go back to selling fruits in the market or working in factories. This moment is the most rewarding and joyous moment for Angelique and her staff.
In addition, Angelique is making efforts in various ways to create a society where disabilities are no longer considered as inability. She recruits students and educates them on better methods for producing prosthetics and rehabilitation services. Additionally, she also utilizes the know-hows for making shoes for prosthetics to offer technical education in making shoes for people with disabilities.
Angelique currently serves about 8 customers per month. While many customers visit the center, she cannot take on more due to productivity limitations from outdated production machinery. Through Impact donation, she plans to purchase a 3D printer that will allow them to produce more artificial limbs. With an estimated 20% reduction in production costs and improved productivity, they expect to serve more than twice as many customers per month. Angelique is becoming a bridge to heal the tragedy.
CEO of Ortho-Promed
“Disability is not inability. Ortho-Promed will continue to grow into a leading rehabilitation center, helping them to walk again and regain hope.”
Please support Angelique and Ortho-Promed to overcome the tragedy and create a society where disability is not inability!