Sonia Rolland visits Ruhengeri Hospital, donates over Rwf30 million to save lives of premature babies

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 4 March 2023 at 10:48

Sonia Rolland, a Rwandan-French actress who was crowned Miss France in 2000 has through her foundation, Maisha Africa Association, donated 30,000 Euros (over Rwf30 million) to Ruhengeri Referral Hospital allocated for the provision of medical equipment to be used in the neonatology section.

She made the donation during her visit to the hospital on Friday 3rd March 2023 to witness how her previous funding is saving lives of prematurely born-babies.

Rolland founded Maisha Africa after visiting Rwanda in 2000 which has been raising funds for various activities aimed at helping children in Rwanda, especially survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In 2020, Rolland had donated medical equipment worth Rfw69 million meant to save lives of premature babies at the health facility.

Speaking to IGIHE after the visit; Dr. Philbert Muhire, the Director General of Ruhengeri Referral Hospital said that Rolland has had a great attachment to the health facility for long.

“She has been giving us equipment to improve neonatology services, save lives of premature babies or others born with complications. Today, Rolland was taken on a tour at the neonatology section to witness the impact of her donation and extend the support. She has pledged around 30,000 Euros for the hospital to buy more equipment and improve neonatology services,” he said.

Dr. Muhire also extolled Rolland for her continued support through Maisha Africa.

“We are particularly very grateful for her support. Even though Rolland lives in France, she has roots in Rwanda and attaches great relevance to her bonds with Rwanda as well as our hospital. We thank her for the generosity and willingness to take care of patients,” he noted.

Three years ago, Rolland donated Rwf69 million to Ruhengeri Hospital to buy medical equipment. They included radiant warmers, emergency trolley, monitoring machines, resuscitation kits, ultrasound machine, phototherapy machine and blood gases analysis machine among other equipment for neonatal intensive care unit.

During an exclusive interview with IGIHE, Rolland expressed satisfaction with what she has so far achieved through Maisha Africa and talked about her attachment to Northern Province.

“I have a strong attachment to this region. My mother was from Ruhengeri, my aunt Charlotte worked at this hospital and my grandfather was at this hospital before fleeing during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” she said.

“They rescued him because they brought him in a camp. I have a strong bond with this town because it is my mother’s home,” added Rolland.

She explained that provided equipment have helped the hospital a great deal as the support ‘reduced almost a half the deaths of babies’.

“I learnt about it last year. I was very excited because I always want to do more. Besides, there are women who return to thank Maisha Africa because of that. It was a great achievement,” noted Rolland.

Rolland created Maisha Africa in 2001 after visiting Rwanda in 2000 along with her family following her selection as Miss France.

She had left the country in Rwanda in 1990.

“At the time, I met with different non-governmental organizations. I was very touched by orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi heading families when I came to Rwanda,” recounted Rolland.

As she said, the orphans included children of her age. Rolland was 19 years old when she created Maisha Africa Association.

The orphans’ ordeal inspired her to create Maisha Africa to raise funding to improve their wellbeing.

“These orphans had painful stories. I initially created the project to help orphans. The initial project was later expanded to support vulnerable children in general. The project started renovating houses of Genocide orphans in Kimironko and other places. We are glad that these children have become adults today,” said Rolland.

Among others, the charity foundation also rehabilitated the former Gisimba orphanage whose name was changed to Gisimba Memorial Centre and built a nursery school in Ntarama of Bugesera District among others.

“It induces great pride because my association has impacted children in different aspects and contributed to national development and emotional stability of many kids,” observed Rolland.

Currently, Rolland has drawn attention to another project to foster women’s development in Rwanda through beekeeping. It is being implemented through an organization dubbed ‘L’Observatoir Français d’Apidologie (OFA).

Rolland was taken on a tour at the neonatology section to witness the impact of her donation.
Rolland expressed satisfaction with the impact of her donation.
Sonia Rolland visiting the neonatal intensive care unit at Ruhengeri Hospital.
The Director General of Ruhengeri Hospital, Dr. Muhire , Sonia Rolland (in the middle) visiting the neonatology section.
Dr. Philbert Muhire, the Director General of Ruhengeri Referral Hospital said that Rolland has had a great attachment to the health facility.
Sonia Rolland posing for a photo at the premises of Ruhengeri Hospital.
Sonia Rolland in a group photo with the management of Ruhengeri Hospital and her delegation.