Health Care at a Rwandan Orphanage

This project was originally intended to examine an orphanage in Rwanda for evidence of malnutrition and introducing the use of growth charts so that the

staff could earlier detect problem cases to seek treatment. However, due to a needs assessment at the orphana

ge, the focus of the project shifted to developing a general health care plan for the children at the orphanage.  Orphans are particu

larly vulnerable for health problems, including malnutrition, HIV/AIDS and other diseases of poverty. It is therefore necessary to establish and maintain sustainable health care programs for the children who will be institutionalized in orphanages in Rwanda and other developing countries. 

L’Esperance Children’s Village is an orphanage on Lake Kivu in western Rwanda.  As a children’s village (rather than a traditional institutional orphanage), the 100 children live in one of four family units that have children of both sexes between the ages of 2 and 21.  There is a house mother for each family unit that is in charge of feeding, cleaning and the other daily needs of the children.  In addition, there is a baby house with eight infants between 20 weeks and two years old.  There is no electricity or running water at the orphanage, and most of the food is grown in the orphanage’s fields, so the diet is heavy on potatoes and cassava root.  

The components of the plan included:

1) HIV testing all of the children at the orphanage 

2) Creation of medical files to be used by visiting health professionals and which the children can take with them to the hospital or health clinic when they visit

3) Creation and stocking of first aid kits for each family unit

4) Training of the house mothers in basic first aid and wound care

5) Arrangement for a Rwandese pediatrician to make annual visits to the orphanage to conduct exams on all of the children

6) De-worming and anti-fungal treatment of the children at regular intervals throughout the year

7) Training of the orphanage staff in taking of height, weight and head circumference measurements and the use of growth charts at regular periods throughout the year


I am continuing to keep in touch with the orphanage.  They haven’t scheduled the pediatrician visits yet but are otherwise on schedule and

claim to be keeping up with the changes that were put in place.  I will follow up on this when I return my fourth year of school.

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