The Good Factory Foundation has always been about the people. This is also the case in Kabuga, Rwanda. We do not run a project here called ‘hospice’. For us, it is the patients and staff whose stories are intertwined in the hospice centre. We care for them, often going beyond the walls of the centre.
This is how, quite naturally, alongside the hospice, we created a family orphanage where the children of Claire and Speciozy, our deceased patients, found refuge. Today, Françoise, who used to work as a cook at the hospice, is the children’s mother.
We have a total of 20 children of patients and staff under our wing. We pay for their education, including that of six-year-old Oliver. In the last few days, we visited the boy with Marta and Marcin, our “high-fivers”, at a school in the hills in the north of the country.
Olivier was born with genetic hydrocephalus and limb underdevelopment. His frequent dizziness and the resulting falls scared off all the local school principals who closed their doors to him, even though he was intellectually no different from his peers. The boy also experienced rejection in his own home. His father, ashamed of his child’s disability, hid him in the house, while beating his wife for, as he exclaimed, giving birth to a “frog”.
Nothing would probably have changed in Olivier’s life if it hadn’t been for his mother’s encounter with the Sisters of the Angels. They were the ones who did a titanic job, finding the boy an inclusive school at the other end of the country and working for a long time with his father to accept his son.
“The very fact that we took an interest in his child caused him to start looking at him at all. Subsequent meetings, conversations about the dignity and rights of every human being, made the man slowly start to open up to the boy and agree to his education. What’s more – other families, seeing Olivier’s father’s new attitude, began to see the needs of their own disabled children, rejecting the superstitious thinking that such a child is a punishment.
Our help is always a multi-level effort. Sometimes we have to reach the deepest layers of the heart to free people’s minds from commonly held beliefs and superstitions,” Sr Marysia tells us.
When we enter Olivier’s classroom, he immediately throws himself into Sr Marysia’s arms and proudly shows us his final test result (30/40), as if to convince us that this is the best way for him too. We know this regardless of the test results!
We very much want each of these 20 children to one day stand on their own feet strong enough to be able to go further into the world independently and perhaps change Rwanda for generations to come.
This is all made possible by the high-fives you give on a regular basis. They really do have the power to change people’s lives.