Within the exotic African nation and in the eyes of visiting foreigners, the Rwanda military services are not merely a testament to discipline and determination but also a significant force driving many social, developmental and economic activities.
From community services that involve manual labour such as Umuganda (performed within local households) to complicated operations like banking services, real estate, construction, infrastructure development and peacekeeping operations in conflict zones outside the nation; the Rwanda military personnel have been working hand-in-hand with their civilian counterparts to power progress in the country.
Earlier this month, a team of doctors from Rwanda Defence Forces, attached to the Rwanda Military Hospital, completed a 40 day eye-care drive in all the prison facilities in the country.
The free eye-screening and treatment exercise began at the Kigali Central Prison last month and concluded at the Nsinda Prison in the Eastern Province. According to Rwanda military and government sources, a massive 7,609 prisoners received treatment for eye maladies and 145 were referred to the military hospital for surgery.
“There are about 145 cases that need operation. 7,609 were successfully treated, while 4,134 were given eye glasses. The prisoners’ eye problems reflect their age – the majority is above 40 years – the age at which eye problems tend to grow”, commented Dr. Alex Nyemazi, an ophthalmologist at the Rwanda military hospital.
Col. Ben Karenzi, the Commandant of Rwanda Military Hospital remarked that RDF’s services to the people would continue. He also observed that among those who have been referred to Kigali for operation include patients with severe blindness and eye cataract that would need to be corrected through operation.
The prisons in Rwanda accommodate thousands of prisoners among which the majority are those convicted of genocide-related crimes. When it comes to human rights and receiving medical care, the RDF commanders believe that these prisoners are entitled to the same privileges as all citizens of Rwanda.
“Our services are dedicated to every single Rwandan. So, treatment for prisoners is our obligation and their deserved right”, said Col. Ben Karenzi. “Next time we shall be here to handle teeth problems”, he added.
Apart from providing medical care to prisoners, the Rwandan military doctors also offer treatment to people ailing from different areas of the country, during a common period of generous activities named “Army Week”. While these activities predominantly focus on the well-being of the general population, they are in certain cases designed to cater to the needs of specific communities in Rwanda’s diverse society.
These activities, wherein the Rwanda military and the general populace work hand-in-hand for national progress, are among many projects spearheaded by the current Government, rightfully surnamed as the “Government of National Unity”. They bear witness to the principles of good governance and have earned Rwanda the pride of setting an example for the rest of Africa to follow.