“She is our mother. She loves us very much. Mum, you know she does, don’t you?”, Teresa says. The woman has suffered a stroke and is paralysed. However, she has no problem throwing herself into Sister Maria’s arms, hugging her and talking as if she were her mother.
Teresa has been in the hospice in Kabuga for two years. She would not be able to function independently. Without round-the-clock care, physiotherapy and the right conditions for her, she would probably be dead by now.
Next to her on the bed lies Virgini. She boasts that she is already 102 years old. Although it is certain that her metric is between 90-100 years, she herself has never known exactly when she was born. At the time, registering newborns was not a common procedure in Rwanda. Documents were sometimes produced years after birth, offering any date of birth. At the hospice, however, no one wants to check Virginia’s documents. Our 100-year-old is happy. That’s all that matters.
As you visit room after room in the hospice, you get the sense that all the patients share the same glint in their eye.
“They come in tired. Often neglected, powerless. You can see that they are suffering and above all you can see the deep, existential sadness in their eyes,” says Sister Maria. “At first they are very closed off an they don’t really know where they are and what is going to happen here, but they soon realise that they are at home here.”
And that is exactly how it is. After a few days, there is more laughter than sadness. The medication, the comfortable conditions, the physiotherapy sessions reduce the pain and the powerlessness. Efficiency returns and the tormented expression disappears.
“The first to appear is the sparkle in the eyes. This is when we know that even if we have to wait for an improvement in fitness, we are already heading in that direction.”
One wants to be among the patients of the hospice in Kabuga. Joy and peace surpass pain and uncertainty here. One does not die here. Here one lives until the very end.
The wonderful team led by Sister Maria can do such wonders with the patients, thanks to you. Right now, you can fund such a gleam in the eye by providing a patient with at least one peaceful, worry-free day at the hospice. The best and only place of its kind in Rwanda.