The village of Kamonyi is located about 30 km southwest of Kigali. Two decades ago, the Swiss lay missionary Anne Marie Steiner built a house there in order to provide a home and basic medical care for people suffering from mental illness - mainly women with their children. These people have practically no chance in Rwandan society - their suffering is not understood, their limitations are not accepted. There are a few psychiatric clinics in Rwanda. Without money or health insurance, however, one is excluded from any psychiatric care. This is where the project «Social House Kamonyi» comes in.
Refuge for outcasts
Today the house is managed by Mrs. Vénéranda Ufitwenaryo. She herself experienced mental illness and social discrimination as a late consequence of the 1994 genocide. Today, she devotes herself entirely to the care of people suffering from mental illness. Vénéranda accommodates about 15 individuals, mostly women, sometimes with their children - some orphans also find shelter here. She helps the outcasts with food, clothing, school fees and medication - she receives medical advice from a psychiatric clinic in Kigali, whose doctors trust her. She also offers support to about 50 ill people in the surrounding area who do not live in the social centre.
Commitment to marginalised people
«Social House Kamonyi» is a private project which receives no support from the state or the church, apart from sporadic donations. Manioc, corn and beans are grown for self-supply. Living conditions are very modest, and Vénéranda is constantly struggling to find the means to provide basic services. - After an evaluation and an on-site visit, CHN has decided to support the «Social House Kamonyi».
2022: Renovation completed
The structural deficiencies urgently required comprehensive intervention to save the house. With the help of donations from Switzerland and a strong local management, it could be fundamentally renovated in 2020/21, plastered weatherproof and provided with a new roof. Simply furnished, the «Social House Kamonyi» is now the framework for a dignified life for the residents - despite illness, poverty and social discrimination.
Some impressions of the renovation of the house can be seen in the bottom 8 pictures: