In a valley along the Rwandan and Ugandan border, where the towering Virunga volcanoes loom in the distance, sits the tiny village of Nyamicucu. Its residents have historically been nomadic and neglected; the village is not easily reached, especially during the wet season when the single bumpy road in and out is impassable. Until recently, getting to a health care facility from Nyamicucu meant embarking on a two-hour walk each way.
But now thousands of residents no longer have to take a full day to access basic health services. Inshuti Mu Buzima (IMB), PIH’s Rwandan sister organization, recently teamed up with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to open the Nyamicucu Health Post. Run by a small staff comprised of a nurse and lab technicians, the health post delivers basic services to more than 7,000 residents. Since opening its doors to the community in March, the health post has been providing care to about 30 people each day.
“We no longer have to move a very long distance to reach the health center. In the past, whenever we had a very sick patient, four men would have to forego their work in the fields and carry the sick person to the health center,” said Marie Chantal Uwineza, a resident of Nyamicucu. “Now, we have a health facility within our village, which has made life easier.”
A sustained commitment
PIH has long been committed to working with the residents of Nyamicucu. In 2011, we helped construct dozens of sturdy homes for families in the region—previously they lived in grass-thatched structures that were poorly ventilated and couldn’t stand up to the strong rains, a recipe for illnesses such as pneumonia.
That same year PIH worked with the government to enroll more than 100 children from the village in primary school—they were the first in their families to attend school. Not long after, we launched a program that supplies families with livestock to improve nutrition and create new opportunities to generate income. We continue to support all of these programs today.
The Nyamicucu Health Post is our latest contribution to this long-overlooked community, and it’s one we’re especially proud of. Tucked at the bottom of a hillside, the health post is a bright and airy facility surrounded by beautiful gardens designed by a local resident.
“Nyamicucu Health Post is another step toward a true preferential option for the poor in health care. It is another milestone in the long-term journey and commitment of PIH/IMB to restore hope and ensure holistic wellbeing in the Nyamicucu community, especially among children and mothers,” said Gilbert Rwigema, PIH/IMB Burera District project director.
To celebrate this milestone, the governor and mayor of Burera District—where Nyamicucu sits—formally inaugurated the building on July 17. The ribbon cutting was followed by singing, dancing, and speeches from both government officials and local residents.
Governor Aimee Bosenibamwe extended his heartfelt gratitude to PIH and its supporters, then expressed future ambitions for the village. “We will make sure that this health post gets a maternity ward, so that pregnant women won’t need to walk to a health center far away,” he said, after urging residents to use the newly available health services. He then discussed plans to construct a better road and bring steady electricity to this area.
PIH will continue standing with the residents of Nyamicucu to forge new partnerships and implement programs that strike at the root causes of poverty.
“Expanding access to education for children, improving agriculture and providing livestock, and making sure people have adequate shelter—they are all part of creating a preferential option for the community,” PIH/IMB’s Rwigema added. “This health post will have a huge impact—it will help reduce risky at-home deliveries and improve access to antenatal care. For thousands of people, this health post will lift the burden of having to walk hours to manage something like a respiratory infection. Nyamicucu Health Post—amazing.”