ASFA Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Centre
Muganza village, Nyaruguru District, Southern Province, Rwanda
Established in 2014, our vision remains to provide sustainable inpatient and outpatient physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation services. Early intervention to facilitate independence and maximise function is key to everything we do to fully realise every patient’s potential. We support and encourage social inclusion of all our patients and their families so they feel valued members of society. Attiitudes towards people with disabilities are slowly changing as they become more active and skilled members of the community. There is much work to do but by working together, disability or no disablity, we can Make a Difference.
Our main focus is on paediatric care and providing treatment and rehabilitation for children with disabilities and some adult outpatient care. Demand is great and we hope to be able to expand our over-subscribed clinical services once our centre is complete. See Future Hopes for more information.
Sr Josephine Nyiranzanwayimama, a member of the Rwandan Franciscan Sisters, had been co-ordinating sewing activities since 2005 in the remote village of Muganza – about four hours south west of Kigali by car.
She took over co-ordinating outpatient services for children with disabilities in 2008 serving a population of approximately 300,000. The needs were, and still are, many and with the support of Margie Salem and donors, in partnership with Global Development Group Australia, ASFA Centre (Amis de Saint François d’Assise/Friends of St. Francis) opened its doors in January 2014 to provide a multi-purpose hall with guest accommodation, office and a dormitory room where families could overnight before catching the early morning bus to town to receive medical treatment for their children at distant hospitals.
We are often amazed by the distance people travel to get to ASFA, with patients walking up to 20km – or being carried on a stretcher. We had a wonderful father who walked for six hours carrying his 20-year-old daughter and a mother who held her child on a motorbike journey for five hours. There are many other humbling stories like this.
In July 2014, we joined forces with our local partners to help train two newly qualified Rwandan physiotherapists. Over the course of 10 days, 100 patients were assessed in three rural clinics. This trip confirmed the pressing need to establish a physiotherapy centre in Muganza where we could provide early intervention for disabled children. Highly experienced nurse and physiotherapist Sister Josephy Uwumuremyi moved to Muganza in September 2014 to welcome the first patients at ASFA Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre. We were overwhelmed from day one with the acute demand for such services.
Diogene Murwashyaka is the Clinical Lead of ASFA Physiotherapy and works alongside UK trained physio, Jessica Edwards and a small team of one physio assistant, four Therapeutic Assistants (carers) and one laundry lady. ASFA Physio treats, on average, 10-12 paediatric inpatients and 174 paediatric outpatients, including a small number of adult outpatients. We see children with developmental delays and disabilities including cerebral palsy, club foot, Down’s Syndrome, genu valgum, autism, developmental delay and many congenital syndromes. Our existing accommodation within ASFA Centre is bursting at the seams but happily construction started in Sept 2019 on our long awaited new home for our service! Please do read all about our plans in Future Hopes ….
ASFA Physio is a place where…
We know that, with the right help, people can achieve wonderful things. This message is the foundation of everything we do at ASFA
Therapeutic Exercise ASFA style!
ASFA is the only centre (we think!) in Rwanda that provides physiotherapy treatment through engaging and fun therapeutic exercise. Focusing on developing gross motor skills such as rolling, sitting, crawling, kneeling, standing and walking, the aim is to facilitate each patient’s normal development and independence.
A stimulating environment is created with toys and therapy equipment and different learning activities are devised to meet the treatment needs of each child. Supporting parents and carers to carry on therapeutic exercise at home is a vital part of what we do in addition to building a supportive network for families of disabled children.
Please read on to learn about a few of our case studies
ASFA Centre’s Projects and Facilities
For those travelling from remote villages for treatment and medical assistance, ASFA provides accommodation for inpatients and our full time carers.
Sr Josephine and one full-time trainer, run year-long sewing courses to give young women the chance to learn a skill and, ultimately, the ability to earn a living.
As of April 2018, 10 women had graduated from the programme. Of these, five now own their own sewing machine and work full time, one hires a machine when she has freelance work and four woman work on a freelance basis and use the ASFA machines when needed.
We currently have five new students doing the course and we know demand for places is high. Having started life on the verandah at ASFA, the course has now moved to a dedicated space close to the Muganza High Street where the students can sell their products and services more easily.
ASFA grow crops including bananas, avocados, strawberries, beans, cabbages, potatoes, sweet potatoes and the most delicious passion fruit ever known (!) in the surrounding fields.
Staff and community education classes
Malnutrition has long been a pressing issue in Rwanda. We run classes on how to sow crops more efficiently and how to cook to maximise nutritional value. We also run child protection classes for ASFA staff.
Continued Professional Development and Safeguarding (Child Protection) courses
Visiting UK physio’s have run annual CPD sessions since 2014.
Safeguarding (child protection) sessions are also held monthly bythe local team and are on the agenda at weekly staff meeting.
Farmers are given one pig, commit to pass on the first female offspring from their animal to another local family and agree to provide training for its care. So far, 11 families have benefitted from the programme (as of February 2018) with families with disabled children registered at ASFA being given preference. Farmers who complete the training successfully are often able to provide better nutrition for their families, take out basic health insurance, send their children to school, raise income from produce and often buy further livestock.
Guest accommodation and catering
ASFA has four guest bedrooms with ensuite facilities and full board for visitors. This is an income generating project that is normally rented out to volunteers, NGO workers and local business people.
Make a Difference 4 Africa wants to build a dedicated residential building at ASFA where disabled children can stay, with their carers, for short-term inpatient treatment.
The current inpatient room is extremely cramped. We want to build a separate building that comprises:
- approximately 20 paediatric inpatient beds
- accommodation for carers
- dedicated space for therapeutic exercise
- 4 consultation rooms
- bathing/toilet facilities
- large kitchen to service the physio and the main building
Already, the lives of many children have improved immeasurably as a result of the intervention and physiotherapy treatment received at ASFA. With a properly staffed, dedicated facility this number can increase and can help participants become more active and skilled members of their family and broader community. Negative stereotypes of people with disability are changing in Rwanda. We want to work with the inspiring local team to help them deliver this incredible project and then replicate the model in other areas of Rwanda and beyond!
Kate & Diogene
Hydraulic hospital beds
Shoes & specialist Piedro walking boots
ASFA Physiotherapy Centre in numbers
We shipped (or lugged!) a total of 1,500kg of physiotherapy equipment including…
- 200 pairs of shoes and specialist Piedro walking boots
- 200 pairs of socks
- 70 medical books (in collaboration with Book Aid International)
- 60 walking sticks and metal crutches
- 40 pairs of arm/leg gaiters
- 35 metal walking frames
- 20 postural wedges and supports
- 22 boxes of Plaster of Paris
- 15 postural management chairs
- 20 wheelchairs
- 10 hydraulic hospital beds
- 2 hydraulic physiotherapy treatment couches
- 10 leather helmets
- 10 standing frames
- 7 plastic floor mats
- 4 toilet and washing chairs
- 4 pushchairs
- 4 bean bags
- 2 wooden climbing frames for muscle development
- 2 sleeping management systems
- 2 full-sized physiotherapy couches
- 1 interferential therapy machine
- 1 filing cabinet
Be part of our life-changing projects and Make a Difference today
UK registered charity number: 1127976