Posted on 25 November, 2013

I’ve mentioned seven month old Francisco in my previous posts, as he was the first patient we met and was an engaging little guy. On Sunday he was coming to the hospital to be admitted for surgery, so Richard and I headed out to follow him in. Francisco is an orphan, who usually lives outside the city, but comes into the Missionaries of Charity (Sisters of Mother Theresa Calcutta) Kigali orphanage when he’s receiving treatment.

Carer at Missionaries of Charity

Richard and I met up with Jean-Paul, who has a fascinating story in his own right, to head over and meet Francisco and his carer. JP was a cardiac patient six years ago and now works to ensure patients and families are prepared and counselled before they are treated. It’s a pretty inspiring story to have a former patient helping the new ones. JP guided us slowly through the Sunday crowds, as mass was concluding, down a potholed filled red dirt road. When we entered the orphanage we were surrounded by well kept buildings and gorgeous French style gardens. It was a serene place. The sisters were all generous and friendly, and graciously allowed us to film there even though there is normally no photography allowed (on the condition they weren’t captured on film as they, like me, have an aversion to seeing themselves).

One of the orphans

Francisco and his carer, Olive, were in the first room that also slept around another 20 babies under 18 months of age. Francisco, ever alert, was up and ready to go while the majority of the others slept. It turns out that Olive was an orphan as well, and spent her first 17 years living in the orphanage outside Kigali. Once she came of age she remained as a carer, spending the last seven years looking after children in the same position she was in. She’s formed a special bond with Francisco as she’s cared for him since he entered the orphanage at one month of age.

While Richard filmed, and the sisters rolled their eyes as he was taking too long, JP and I spent some time with the older children, many of whom had intellectual or physical disabilities. Then we waved and wished Francisco good luck as he peered out of the windows of the truck that took him to King Faisal Hospital. On Monday he was to receive the operation that would change his little life.

Tags:  East Africa,