The UMH and Rwanda
7 November 2023
One of the most emblematic Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH) projects in terms of development cooperation consists in the creation and consolidation of a sustainable structure directed at education and socio-health care in Africa. For almost 20 years, the UMH has nurtured a stable superstructure dedicated to international development cooperation, and the university maintains a permanent presence in Rwanda. In that Central African country, a perfectly consolidated activity is being carried out in the health field with efforts undergoing at hospitals in Nemba (Gakenke District) and Ruhengeri, as well as in the educational field at various schools, such as those of Saint Jean d’Nkumba, Saint Vicent de Paul G.S. Nemba I, Ecole Superieure de Sciences de Ruhengeri in Musanze, and the Apeki Tumba school in the Rulindo District.
The UMH international development cooperation project in Rwanda began in 2004, when our university contributed to the consolidation and expansion of infrastructure at Nemba Hospital. Since that time, the UMH has led numerous training courses for health professionals in areas as varied as ultrasound & radiography, cardiology, pneumology & nephrology, mental health, psychological intervention, dermatology & leprosy, neurology & clinical neurophysiology, laboratory techniques, the cardiopulmonary system, ICT training, etc. Likewise, UMH volunteers have actively participated in the training of Rwandan students and improved the training of Rwandan school teachers, and have provided health care to hospital patients and imparted social and health education to the families of patients hospitalized there.
Among UMH contributions to Rwandan infrastructure, either through initial construction or by improvements to existing facilities, the following stand out:
- Pediatrics unit at Nemba Hospital in 2005;
- Nemba Center for Training and Development in 2006;
- First residence hall for students at the Nemba Training and Development Center in 2007;
- Second residence hall for students at the Nemba Training and Development Center in 2008;
- Center for Vocational Training in Carpentry in 2009;
- Construction of 15 classrooms at Nemba schools in 2010;
- Center for Health Prevention for Nemba students in 2011;
- Training facilities at Saint Jean d’Nkumba Secondary School in 2016;
- Improvements to the outpatient consultancy building of Nemba Hospital in 2016;
- Construction of lunch room and kitchens at Nemba schools and a videoconference training room in 2017;
- Construction of a waiting room for family members of Nemba Hospital patients in 2018;
- Implementation of an educational and communication project for school radio at ESSA-Ruhengeri Secondary School in 2019;
- Improvements to the Nemba Hospital ICU in 2020;
- Construction of a library at ESSA-Ruhengeri Secondary School in 2021;
- Construction of restrooms at the Nemba Hospital Waiting Room and provision of equipment for its ICU in 2022, and;
- Remodeling for girls’ dormitories at Apeki Tumba School in Rulindo in 2023.
Likewise, the UMH has rebuilt and maintains two residence halls, one for volunteers and another for training, and which currently remain operational. Each hall is complete with distinct services and facilities, which enable housing both university community members as well as external visitors who travel there to see the work carried out by the UMH firsthand, as well as for collaborating in tasks that go on in Rwanda.
The UMH also lends support to the Rwandan population. This it does by providing annual monetary contributions (from both in-house and external sources) to provide at least one meal per day for students at Nemba schools, to provide Rwandan mutual health insurance coverage for vulnerable families from the Nemba Sector, as well as for providing the necessary medical equipment for operating the UCIs at Nemba and Ruhengeri hospitals.
To reinforce and ensure continuity of institutional presence in Rwanda, the UMH established, via an Executive Board agreement on 24 November 2015, the UMH Headquarters in Rwanda Chair. Since that time, the chair has acted as a platform for linking, studying, and disseminating everything related to the activities carried out in Rwanda, including volunteering and cooperation projects, for training, research, and construction of infrastructure, both for health as well as to educate. Through this chair, the UMH actively collaborates with all institutions, organizations, and associations, both public and private, that conduct similar activities on local, regional, Spanish, and international levels. The chair also establishes sponsorship and patronage agreements with public and private institutions that wish to collaborate in the completion of the activities organized by this chair.
All actions the UMH undergoes in Rwanda are made possible thanks to contributions by the very university, grants from governmental institutions, mainly the Generalitat Valenciana, and through private contributions.