Working together to cure clubfoot in Rwanda

Mrs. Esperance Uwizeye, the CCW coordinator for Rwanda, attends to a patient.

Mrs. Esperance Banza, the CURE Clubfoot coordinator for Rwanda, attends to a patient.

The country of Rwanda has been described as “The land of a thousand hills,” which, with its elaborate green, undulating landscape of hills, gardens, and tea plantations, is an accurate description. The city of Kigali is becoming a modern city, perhaps the cleanest in Africa. It is well laid out and everything seems to function properly.

It is a fitting description to anyone who has traveled in Rwanda, but I would add another: “miracle country.” How else do you describe a country that went through one of the worst genocides in human history, yet in only twenty years has come back better, stronger, and more united than ever? Rwanda is unified in fighting disease, hunger, poverty, and corruption and is also committed to looking after children, especially those with disabilities.

It is in this country that CURE Clubfoot has come alongside the Ministry of Health, the church, and other NGOs to make healing children born with clubfoot a reality. Out of a population of 11.4 million, 501 babies are born with clubfoot each year.

The professional at the center of CURE Clubfoot in Rwanda is Mrs. Esperance Banza. She is a physiotherapist by profession but is also a wife and mother who is passionate about ministering to children born with clubfoot. I had the privilege to visit two clubfoot clinics with Esperance and I was impressed by her ability to network, delegate, and supervise. Spending the afternoon with the volunteer lead counselor and three other counselors was a very special experience for me.

While I was visiting I learned that the key stakeholders in this ministry include the Ministry of Health, the church, the community, and various NGOs. In other words, we’re not alone. The key to making this work in a sustainable manner is partnership. Each of the stakeholders can contribute something to making this mission happen.

Since we work with the poorest of the poor, the healing that happens in our programs is often only the beginning. Most of the children and their parents go back to their villages to face the challenges of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Without partnerships with the church and organizations that can help in other ways, the child who was healed from clubfoot would go back to the village only to die of malnutrition.

The champions that help keep the gospel at the center of this ministry are volunteer counselors, most of them pastors who have been trained to sensitively minister to both children and adults. The volunteers play a significant role in helping the church to take responsibility for ministry to this vulnerable group in society. These volunteers are always in need of our prayers, support, and encouragement!

When nationals like Esperance and the volunteer counselors are equipped and empowered to serve their fellow brothers and sisters, they discover that they have answers to most of the challenges they face and all that is needed is someone to come alongside of them and help them do what they’re doing, only better.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It was a great joy to see that proverb being lived out at CURE Clubfoot in Rwanda.

To learn more about CURE Clubfoot, please visit the CURE Clubfoot page.


Photo of the Victor Nakah

About the Author:

Victor Nakah is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. He is both a Langham and Overseas Council scholar and he has a PhD in Systematic Theology from Stellenbosch University near Cape Town, South Africa. Victor served CURE as SVP of Spiritual Ministry until 2018. Prior to joining CURE, Victor served as the Africa Regional Director of Overseas Council International. For 10 years, he was the President of the Theological College of Zimbabwe (TCZ). He was the associate pastor at the City Presbyterian Church in Bulawayo and also served with Scripture Union (SU) and the Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS-IFES) in Zimbabwe. Victor and his wife, Nosizo, have three daughters and live in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

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