Mami Rudasingwa
2012winners international contribution
Obtaining a Prosthetist License and Providing Artificial Legs to Disabled Rwandans for Free for 15 Years
Mami Rudasingwa

born: 1963
Republic of Rwanda

Award summary

She learnt Japanese artificial limb technology in order to help Rwandans and has provided artificial legs to about 6000 people for free.

Due to the influence of the Belgian colonial policy, there has long been an ethnic conflict in the Republic of Rwanda. In 1994, a massacre occurred which killed about one million people. It is "MULINDIJAPAN ONE LOVE PROJECT," an NGO founded by Ms. Mami Rudasingwa, which has been making and supplying artificial limbs to people who lost their own limbs due to the civil war or diseases free of charge for 15 years there.

Ms. Mami Yoshida, who was an office worker, went to Kenya to study Swahili at a language school in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, in 1989 when she was 26. She then met Gatera Rudasingwa Emmanuel, a Rwandan refugee who was to become her husband later, and learnt of the Rwandan conflict and the plight of disabled people, which turned out to be the turning point in her life. Partly because Gatera had a disabled leg, Mami came in touch with the Japanese artificial limb technology. Impressed by its high technological prowess, she decided to make use of it to help disabled Rwandans. In 1992, she became an apprentice of HIRAI Prosthetics and Orthotics Works in Yokohama and spent five years to obtain a prosthetist license.

In 1997, Mami and Gatera opened a small workshop in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, to start making artificial legs. According to her, the first person who visited the workshop was a man who had lost both legs in a land mine explosion that happened when he was driving a truck. They were subsequently donated a land lot by the government. Constructing and managing a prosthetic limb workshop, vocational training facility, and other related facilities by themselves, they have so far provided artificial limbs to approximately 6,000 persons for free. In 2007, they started making artificial limbs in the neighboring country of Burundi. They focus not only on providing artificial limbs but also on employment support through prosthetist training. Six persons who have so far learned at their vocational training facility are under technical training in Japan.

Although facility management involves a lot of troubles, Mami's greatest joy is to "see the back of a patient walking home on an artificial leg(s) made by us."

Reasons for this award

Not only has she provided artificial limbs for 15 years, but also she has endeavored to contribute to local human resource development and employment support.

It is no ordinary feat to continue support for as long as 15 years while being based in Rwanda, where is far away from Japan. Her effort for obtaining the license as a prosthetist is also respectable. It is also appreciated that she has expanded her activities to include human resource development and employment support through vocational training of local people in addition to providing artificial limbs for free.

Comments from the winner

I was really surprised to receive this award because I did not expect it at all. In October, last year, the place where we worked was damaged by a flood. Our facilities were submerged. As I received this news of the award when I felt down mentally so much, I was very glad to hear it.

I think it was not I but all the people who have so far been involved in this activity that received this award. Above all, I would like to dedicate this award to my husband who survived the times of the Rwandan massacre and still struggles in Rwanda today and to my deceased father who was the first supporter of this activity.