By Elias Hakizimana.
Giving back to community is always a key to supporting development of one’s mother country. This was the reason why Esther Gasangwa and his husband decided to come to Rwanda to replicate an initiative from Canada to support Rwanda’s children with disabilities through establishing Living Channel Services Organization (LCS).
The idea to establish the organization and that supports children with physical and mental disabilities was incepted by Esther Gasangwa and her husband Lucky Gasangwa in 2010. Esther has experience in nursing and as she reaches Canada, she served children with physical and mental disabilities.
“I thought how I can support children with same conditions from my country Rwanda, starting from my native District, Kayonza. In 2016, we came in Kayonza and did an assessment with local leaders to see where these children live.” Esther said.
They work with the National Council for People with Disabilities (NCPD) and they plan to move to other areas of the country later.
“We started in Gahini, Mukarange and Kabarondo sectors, we have to work with the remaining sectors before we spread activities to other districts,” she said.
She added that commitment is the only key to supporting people, noting that the main challenge is still finance issue. She noted that beneficiaries were exposed to social stigma and discrimination before they get support, where they could lack access to healthcare and other basic needs as vulnerable children.
The budget for one child to get education and healthcare services as well as hygiene equipment counts for $50 around Rwf35,000 every month but their needs are different, excluding goats and hens they were given to support their well-being.
The organization is registered in Rwanda as a Non-Government Organization, with around 8 staff in Kayonza District. It is also registered in Canada with goals to support children in Rwanda, contributing a monthly help. They have a project to donate hens in coming days.
More about Living channel organization
Living channel is a project aiming to support children with physical and mental disabilities. It equips beneficiaries with access to healthcare and education services, and other equipment to help them move. It also helps their parents gain employment and bring them together to socialize.
Currently, they support 15 children for the pilot phase and will increase them after being successful and according to available capacity.
“We have two years in these activities and we want to first take beneficiaries to a very significant level of welfare. In next two to three years we will have 50 children in this initiative who will benefit from our activities. Esther said.
Cathy Rwamuningi, a resident from Canada, whose husband Costaud Omar Rwamuningi is from Rwanda has observed that the project is doing well, promising to go to advocate for further sponsorship in Canada.
“Living channel project has contributed a lot in raising community welfare. Our purpose was to visit and see what they are doing here and we are going to Canada to find people who can sponsor children and provide more support here,” she said.
Jean Damascene Harelimana, The Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs of Kayonza District lauds efforts of this organization since they started working with the district in 2017.
“We have been working with Living Channel since 2017, they support 15 children and their families, in Gahini, Kabarondo and Mukarange sectors, they advise parents on how to cater for their children with disabilities and they pay them health insurance, they help children with mental diseases to access medicines and they help them get physiotherapy,” he said.
“They also donate goats for some of these families. In partnership with the district, we are planning also to give them hens and pigs. Other families were given mattresses in line with boosting hygiene, we are giving milk to their children to fight malnutrition together with Living Channel Organization.” He added.
Harelimana said that this organization helps the district increase welfare of vulnerable citizens in different initiatives especially special healthcare services for children with disabilities.
“We expect to continue working together with local organization to improve citizens’ welfare. We are discussing with living channel to prepare together the next years’ strategic plan to further our activities for the well-being of our citizens,” he added.
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