Refurbishing the Komera Centre
In association with the Rotary Club of Kigali Gasabo in Rwanda, the Club's International Committee has raised $61,000 to improve the Komera Centre, which supports over 140 youngsters whose disabilities include deafness and mental disorders.
The Komera Centre Project, Western Rwanda
Historically, Rwandans saw a disabled child as a stigma, to be hidden from view. Orphaned children were regarded similarly. The catastrophic genocide of 1994 added substantially to the numbers of the latter, as well as to those who were significantly traumatised.
The Komera Centre (also known as the Education and Rehabilitation for Life Centre) was started in 2006 by Reverend Father Eugene Murenzi in the Western province of Rwanda, in association with a Dutch NGO, to change these perceptions and to teach children and young people how to communicate with each other and their parents, and also to train them in practical skills which would benefit their communities on their return.
Currently 72 children and young people (who suffer from deafness, physical disability, mental health issues, blindness, and communication problems) attend as boarders, and a further 74 with similar needs attend daily from the surrounding community.
The work and needs of this community were brought to the notice of the Rotary Club by Professor
Brendan Monteiro, an international expert in the field of mental health within the deaf and disabled community and an associate of club member and fellow medic Raj Dhumale. Prof. Monteiro spoke to the Club of his visit to the Komera Centre in Rwanda, where he had worked with the staff, and committee chairman David Hughes made a visit to assess the need and record it.
To see David's video click here
In the original scheme, the NGO provided classrooms, dormitories, and rudimentary washing and toilet facilities which were barely suitable for disabled use. Since then, the water supply has deteriorated, and the washing and toilet facilities have become significantly worse. Moreover, the contract with the NGO ended in 2010 and funds were unavailable for replacement.
The project will provide
• a secure water supply
• toilet and shower facilities suitable for the disabled, with wheel chair access
• hygiene training
• a bio digester to generate methane gas for cooking school meals
• solar panels for electricity
The whole project has been designed by Rotarians in Cornwall, and costed and managed by Rotarians in Rwanda. The criteria are such that it must benefit the local economy and use local materials. Some of the building work has beeen undertaken by students at the Centre, who have learned skills of subsequent use in their communities.
The total cost of the scheme will be of the order of US$61,000.