Rwanda’s Isabelle Kamariza has been registered in the books of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as an important person who matters in society.
The Queen has recognized Kamariza, representing Rwanda, as the 55th Commonwealth Point of Light.
The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding volunteers every day of the week-people whose service is making a difference in their communities and whose story can inspire others to create innovative solutions to social challenges in their own communities and beyond.
Kamariza, is founder of ‘Solid’ Africa, a charity organization with 5 initiatives oriented to supporting hundreds of needy patients.
The major one of these initiatives is a meal per day for 400 needy patients from Kigali based University Teaching Hospital (CHUK).
“I am really humbled. I couldn’t believe our small contribution to the life of patients could have such a recognition,” Kamariza told KT Press adding that the UK high commission in Rwanda has invited her to go and receive her recognition on Friday – June 8.
Her journey to this stage, and her determination and vision for vulnerable patients is what motivated the Queen to choose her.
Kamariza’s story started in 2010 when she met a one Mama Zuzu, a woman with a compassionate heart.
She was offering a meal to just two patients every day at CHUK.
“She encouraged me to join her to offer the little we could afford and most importantly, to pray for the sick,” she said.
Kamariza who was graduating from the faculty of law joined Mama Zuzu, and together, they continued to pray, offer a few meals to patients.
Their calling grew and in 2011, Kamariza registered Solid Africa NGO.
They started by feeding 20 patients, a number which would grow to 200 patients by 2015 and currently, 400 patients.
They all get a heavy breakfast made of porridge, eggs, bread, fruits and milk and sometimes, freshly squeezed juice from Tuesday to Sunday and a balanced diet for lunch every Monday of the week.
“We have seven volunteers who prepare the meal from their respective homes because we do not have a kitchen, and then we carry the food at the hospital. Our focus is patients in the first and second categories of Ubudehe-the poorest people in the community,” she said.
Kamariza’s solid Africa gets the food from their six hectares of land where they grow some vegetables, fruits, bananas and other crops, and from a partner-Minimex, a food factory in Kigali which offers maize flower
The rest is bought from the market.
Apart from this program called Gemura or Food for All, the organization also has Kiza which is about medicine and special test and Sukura which is about hygienic items like clothing, tooth brush, toothpaste.
Most important in this program – Sukura includes supply of drinking water.
Solid Africa installed a water treatment facility at CHUK, to serve patients, especially targetting pediatric and gynecologic department.
“We have five permanent staff who supply water across the hospital on a daily basis,” said Kamariza.
In Gombora program, they also assist vulnerable patients to pay medical bills while in Kina, they have started a play therapy for children at CHUK.
All this cost Rwf91 million last year, according to Kamariza.
Feeding 1000 Patients
Solid Africa’s dream kept growing, and partners also understand their dream.
Kamariza says that they have an ambition to feed 1000 patients from 6 hospitals of the city; CHUK, Kinyinya, Muhima, Masaka, Kanombe and Kacyiru.
This suggests an industrial kitchen. The organization already got a free land from Gasabo district in Rusororo.
Imbuto Foundation, a charity organization founded by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame provided $436,000 out of $500,000 that is required for the modern kitchen to be completed next year.
“We can find solutions around us as Africans without waiting for others to solve them. That’s what keeps us moving,” says Kamariza
Meanwhile, some of her support comes from a truck she rents out and the Barbara Stifiel Foundation among others.