February 20, 2021

Gicumbi Stars: The Parasports Champions No longer Able to Feed Themselves


Trustworthy and indepth news stories are more important now than ever.
Support our newsroom by MAKING A CONTRIBUTION HERE
Gicumbi Stars have played and won at nearly every parasports tournament

They had been admirable for many years for winning trophy after another, until the COVID-19 pandemic turned their world upside down. Players of Gicumbi Stars, a team for people living with physical disabilities, are unable to feed themselves.

In March 2020, Rwanda began imposing tough regulations to control the spread of the virus including a ban on sports activities. A year later, sporting tournaments still remain banned – along with many other aspects of the country.

Gicumbi Stars, founded in 2010, has 27 players including 12 women. The have won 21 trophies from different parasports disciplines at national level, and individually at international. For 2019, they scooped the national trophy for Sit Ball, and emerged runners up in the Sit Volleyball tournament.

But despite these accolades, many Gicumbi Stars players are having tough time putting food on the table, which is compounded by their physical disabilities. Gicumbi district, which helped found the team, stopped providing them with regular payments back in March last year.

According to the team members, the players got Rwf 30,000 after each game. Not all played same games. As illustration of the case, we picked case of Gashirabake Assoumani who would have played up to 16 games a year.

From these payments, and other support from different well-wishers, individual Gicumbi Stars players were able to pay rent, food and take care of the basics.

When the COVID-19 control measures were implemented, such as during the first national lockdown, the central government and local governments gave direct food aid to those considered vulnerable. NGOs also helped government.

For Gicumbi Stars players, since they are living with disabilities, they were to have been supported through NUDOR, the national umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities.

According to the members, NUDOR determined that only 9 players qualified for food aid. They received their share in July, each getting a package that included 3kg of maize floor, 3kg of rice, 3 kg of beans, 3 litres of cooking oil, and 2 bars of washing soap.

The team is well-known around Rwanda because of its winning spirit

It means that during the two months of lockdown from March to May, the players had to depend on their own savings, or fend for themselves if they had no other sources of livelihoods. And for the aid delivered in July, it wouldn’t have lasted them long. They have had to live on the edge. Some of the team members opted to leave Gicumbi town and return to their villages.

Mukankusi Beatrice said; “It is really difficult to even get food. The time when we had tournaments, I had a steady income to pay rent and take care of whatever I needed. I really don’t know for how long this will continue.”

Gashirabake Assoumani vividly remembers the numbers. He said; “From the different tournaments like Sit Ball, Sit Volleyball and athletics, I was assured of at least 16 appearances which would have brought me a total of Rwf 480,000. Now that is no more, yet I have no alternatives.”

For the case of Nkorerimana José, she had to relocate from the urban area back to the rural village. She narrated; “In town, it was tough to get food for my one-year-old baby. I couldn’t pay rent. Worse still, the life here in the village is far worse since I can’t work in fields. If you know a 5 Franc coin, well, I don’t have it.”

Boniface Riberakurora, a Gicumbi district coordinator for the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, said they have solicited for help from different places for the Gicumbi Stars team but have been unsuccessful.

“The district used to support the team from its tax revenue but the district is also struggling as the pandemic has impacted it like everything else,” he said. “Even the private sector, they responded to our appeals saying they have lost business.”

By René Rucyahana

This story done as a collaboration with Radio Ishingiro based in Gicumbi district

We can't do quality journalism without your support

Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue are declining, The Chronicles remains committed to "Serving Your Right To Know The Truth". Stand with us as we document Rwanda's remarkable journey for you and the future generation. Do you value our journalism? We can't do it without you. Show us with your support by CONTRIBUTING HERE.
Email your news TIPS to info@chronicles.rw or WhatsApp +250788351327.
You can also find us on Signal

41 Comments

  1. I absolutely love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own blog and want to learn where you got this from or
    what the theme is named. Thanks!

  2. I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never
    found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
    In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did,
    the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  3. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable information to work on. You’ve performed a formidable task and
    our whole neighborhood will likely be thankful to you.

  4. This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how
    you presented it. Too cool!

  5. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I
    could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe
    you would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look
    forward to your new updates.

  6. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite certain I will learn plenty of
    new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  7. Nice weblog here! Additionally your site lots up very fast!

    What web host are you the use of? Can I get your associate hyperlink
    to your host? I want my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  8. Howdy, I think your web site could possibly be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, if
    opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues.
    I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, great website!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *