Africa: Amputation Is Not the End of the Road

“These days, no one should feel helpless after losing a leg, or think that you cannot earn a living again. You can give birth if you are a woman, you can do any job that someone with all limbs can do, all it takes is confidence that you can make it.” says Nishimwe.

For 26-year old Nishimwe Nyiramahirwe, there is no limit to ability after amputation.

The mother of two, lives in Kinyinya sector, around 10 kms from the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), a distance that takes more than 2 hours on foot. The distance has always been a challenge for Nishimwe because public transport in the area is not easily accessible.

After a terrible car accident 20 years ago in the western province, Nishimwe’s left leg was amputated below the knee. This is when she started using a prosthesis Since then she has been fitted with three prostheses. At the time of her accident, she was a tailor.

When the last prosthetic leg became worn out, I could not afford to repair it, or buy a new one, so I decided to sell the sewing machine

This led her to losing her livelihood and she would no longer provide for her family.

Thanks to community based health insurance implemented at CHUK, she received a new prosthesis paying only 10% of the cost. Since 2018 the physical rehabilitation program of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been providing technical and financial support to CHUK, to enable the provision of prosthetic devices to people like Nishimwe. In 2020, the ICRC supported 1,722 people with physical rehabilitation services.