Jean Népo Nshimyumuremyi, 25, got physical disability due to meningitis he suffered when he was two years old, subsequently losing abilities to walk. Born in Mukama Sector but currently living in the neighbouring Gatunda Sector in Nyagatare District of the Eastern Rwanda, Nshimyumuremyi hadn’t gone to school until the age of 12 years when an Italian benevolent took him to Gatagara, a centre for persons with disabilities, in Southern Rwanda where he started studying in primary one in 2006.
Unfortunately, financial constraints forced him to drop out. “I dropped out of school in 2016 when I was in senior five because my sponsor went back to live in Italy. The Italian had misunderstanding with my family because my family was not giving me school materials while he was paying my school fees and boarding facilities,” he told The Bridge Magazine from Mukama Sector Office last week.
Speaking from his wheelchair, Nshimyumuremyi pleaded for support to take him back to school to complete his secondary school education or at least support him with a decent residence with proper facilities like a toilet to accommodate his disability.
“At Gatagara school, the school fees was at Rwf72,000 per each of the three terms of the year and all expenses for my education roughly goes around Rwf100,000 per term. I live alone because I have no parents and my siblings rejected me. I tried to construct my house with money I made from selling telephone’s airtime but the house is incomplete and I have to live in it the way it is for lacking an alternative,” he says, shedding tears.
Some parents of children who have disabilities in Mukama Sector also expressed similar concerns, saying that their children’s education is not catered for in their area because the only one school in their district considers visual and hearing impairments only. They said it is even very expensive to keep a child in that school which requires the school fees of Rwf80,000 per term.
Paulin Ntirenganya, Executive Secretary of Mukama Sector, agrees with the complainants and said the advocacy is underway to establish a second school for special needs in Nyagatare District. “There is hope for improvements in services offered to persons with disabilities in the future. We offered 29 wheelchairs to some of them last month and more support will be coming over time to cater for all 503 people with various categories of disabilities in this sector,” said the official.