The following was submitted by Espérance Uwiziye and Bernard Uzabakiriho of CURE Clubfoot Rwanda.
Our CURE Clubfoot program in Rwanda currently has 22 clinics across the country. With the purpose of raising community awareness regarding CURE Clubfoot activities, we organized an awareness day at the Gikondo clinic. We had 47 parents of children born with clubfoot, four local pastors, and a large collection of CURE Clubfoot staff.
A short introduction was given by the Program Manager, Mrs. Espérance Uwizeye, who welcomed participants and wished them an enjoyable event.
Pastor Cyprien Hakizimana took time to lead prayers with worship songs and Bible readings. The Clinic Director, Mr. August Murenzi, followed the opening time of prayer. He acknowledged the Rwanda clubfoot program for their excellent partnership and the support provided for the management of clubfoot throughout the hospital. He also reminded the parents to use the opportunity to complete the treatment process and ensure proper healing for their children. Thereafter, he welcomed the participants and wished them a successful workshop.
The Program Manager took the time to briefly present the role of the Rwanda clubfoot program and the management of clubfoot in partnership with hospitals around the country. She mentioned that clubfoot is a condition that can be managed and cured when parents respect the instructions given by health providers and CURE Clubfoot counselors. In contrast, when instructions are not respected, it may result in a permanent disability for the child.
The Program Manager also explained the management process, the Ponseti method, which includes three phases: casting, tenotomy, and bracing. Each phase was explained in detail so the participants could act as good ambassadors to the community afterward. She presented two children, one who did not accomplish the treatment by using braces properly and one who followed instructions, accomplished the whole process, and was healed. The first child’s mother, who did not complete the treatment properly, took the time to explain her bad experience to the participants and asked them to avoid it. She explained how respecting instructions from health providers and counselors would help their children get better. She thanked the counseling program at Gikondo clinic, especially the local pastor, who convinced her to return.
At first, she went to Gikondo clinic only one time, when they put on a cast. She then didn’t return and the counselor tried to bring her back, but she refused. They removed the cast at home and gave the child traditional herbs because they did not believe that clubfoot could be treated by casts. After one year, the foot was more deformed than it was before. At that time they met one of the local pastors who had been in contact with our Gikondo outreach connection program and the pastor convinced the family to go back for medical treatment.
The Counseling Coordinator briefly explained the role of counselors for the management of clubfoot at clinic sites. Different questions that parents had about clubfoot were answered by counselors. They also helped to strengthen their faith and avoid believing rumors.
Deo Sebakaka, a counselor at Byumba Hospital, explained to the parents in detail what services were provided by counselors during clinic day. There were four new cases brought in by local pastors on that day.
There was another mother who shared her two different experiences with clubfoot treatment. She had a baby with clubfoot and did not respect the instruction given by health care providers when it came to keeping appointments. Instead of coming every week to change the cast, she was coming every two weeks, which resulted in a delay in treatment. Her second baby also was born with clubfoot, but because of the previous bad experience, she decided to complete the treatment as required. That baby was healed in five weeks. For the first baby, because she was not respecting appointments, it took 11 weeks for the feet to be corrected. Participants appreciated hearing about her experience and learned a lot from this mother.
About the Authors:
Espérance Uwiziye is the Program Manager for CURE Clubfoot in Rwanda.
Bernard Uzabakiriho is a Counseling Coordinator for CURE Clubfoot in Rwanda.