Good Cause: Solid’Africa

Solid'Africa

There are plenty of great things happening in Kigali (and all over Rwanda) and I wanted to use this site to bring attention to some good causes around town.

First up is Solid’Africa whose aim is to help some of the most vulnerable people in Rwandan society. They’re holding their annual Charity Gala Dinner this Friday at 7:30pm at Lemigo Hotel. Tickets cost Rwf 25,000 which includes food, prizes and entertainment. Check out their website or Facebook page for more information.

I spoke with Audric and got the scoop on the organisation…

What is Solid’Africa?

The main objective of Solid’Africa is to help the most vulnerable patients in Rwandan public hospitals.

How did it start?

Founded in September 2010, our organization originated in the coming together of a group of young people who felt affected and concerned by the problems faced by certain patients. There were 8 founding members – 7 of them are students from the Belgian School of Kigali (Ecole Belge de Kigali). We met more than 10 years ago and have been close friends since then.

Relying at its beginnings on a small circle of people, this project quickly evolved. More young people (currently about fifty) joined this movement, each bringing valuable resources essential to the development of our activities. We gradually carried out different measures of awareness. With Solidarity as its cardinal principal, Solid’Africa wants to bring together and mobilize all members of society – from the individual to the company- in order to create a dynamic of effective mutual help.

Who do Solid’Africa help and how?

In order to help these vulnerable patients and allow them to return to a fulfilling and productive life, our organization has developed four main programs:

1) Gemura – Food for All

Being properly fed is a critical step for patients to be cured. Neither is the food provided by the hospital nor is it covered by the ‘mutuelle’. Therefore, Solid’Africa has decided to set up different actions:

  • Solid’Monday – Lunch every Monday at CHUK – Target: 300 patients.
  • Daily Breakfast – Milk, porridge and bread distributed every day at CHUK and Muhima (Intensive care and Emergency Units) – Target: 80 patients.
  • Follow up and catering for special diet.
  • Mike Stenbock Gemura Kitchen – Building a RWF 50 million public kitchen to feed 1000 people every day in 4 public hospitals in Kigali. Project in launching phase.

2) Gombora – Hospital Bills Payment and Transport

Payment of outstanding hospital bills, release of held-in cases, repatriation home trough payment of transportation fees.

3) Kiza – Medical Expenses

Payment of medicines for the most socio-economically challenged and for special cases; provision of special care items including crutches and wheelchairs.

4) Sukura – Hygiene

Provision of clothing items and personal hygienic products (such as soaps, toilet papers, sanitary pads, towels, blankets, etc.)

Where does Solid’Africa get its funding?

The majority of Solid’Africa’s project are funded through the contribution of its members. Additional funds from private donors combined with the sells of our branded Solid’Africa T-Shirts serve as supplemental funding for the projects. In its demonstrated commitment to innovate and develop creative solutions, Solid’Africa has recently adopted an approach that has never been tried before in Rwanda – co-branding partnerships with local businesses.

The first of its kind is the partnership with Boulangerie de Kigali that has resulted in a commitment from this business to provide a fixed amount of their daily production of bread (2%) to Solid’Africa beneficiaries in hospitals. Solid’Africa will continue to pursue similar partnerships with additional businesses in Rwanda in an effort to encourage their Corporate Social Responsibility programs.

Who are the Solid’Africa crew?

At this moment, Solid’Africa has two employees: Maman Zuzu (she’s working directly on the ground – mainly at CHUK – every day) and Hubert (who was hired 1.5 months ago as an administrative assistant).

Except that, we’re all working voluntarily. Isabelle Kamariza (our President) and I (Executive Secretary) are working full-time without being paid. Our team of active members (50 worldwide) are also highly involved in the pursuit of our activities. They give their free-time to help the vulnerable and they are definitely the main strength of Solid’Africa. But I have also to admit that additional full-time human resources would be necessary to run the organization efficiently.

Are there opportunities for volunteers to get involved?

Of course! As I said, we’re all volunteers at this time. We had the chance to have Elodie Colson (a Belgian citizen) who came from Belgium for a “real” volunteership at Solid’Africa. She stays 3 months here and worked on the budget, the website, etc… We also had another volunteer from Belgium (Anne-Gaëlle Nolens) who came for 3 weeks to help us: she gave us courses on project management and she worked on the structure of the organization.

We’re really open to have new volunteers. The work we’re accomplishing is so huge that having new persons involved would be a chance for us.

What are Solid’Africa’s goals for the future?

Our main project is the construction of our Gemura Kitchen. The idea here is to evolve to a more structured and sustainable way to provide food to patients. This kitchen, once built, will feed 1.000 people per day in the four public hospitals in Kigali. We already got the land freely form the Gasabo District. And now we have to go back to all the companies and persons who promised us resources to build it. We plan to have it operational at the end of 2012.

We’re also working on an educational project: Solid’Africa Honor Society. The idea is to create a program that will train and encourage students (secondary schools and universities in Rwanda) to involve themselves in their communities

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.