Nov 7, 2017 | By Julia

As the burgeoning field of 3D printed prosthetics continues to expand, a Japanese-Rwandan NGO is looking to bring the innovation to home soil. Mulindi Japan One Love is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing mobility and independence to East Africans with disabilities. Launched in 1996 by partners Emmanuel Gatera Rudasingwa and Mami Yoshida Rudasingwa, the Mulindi Japan One Love project has supplied prosthetic limbs and medical devices (including wheelchairs and crutches) to more than 6,000 Rwandans and 2,000 Burundians free of charge. Now, the NGO is looking to expand its role, with a new program for 3D printed prosthetics.

Though only in its initial research stages, the project is already looking to go big: organization officials are aiming to fundraise $100,000 for the purchase of 3D printing systems. “We are already conducting a market research on the prices across the globe for the appropriate equipment. This will take some time but once we have the machines we will be able to make better sockets,” said Mami Rudasingwa Yoshida, co-founder and Legal Representative of Mulindi One Love.

Sustainability will be a key goal of the new project, which will use recycled plastic materials as 3D printer filament. The incorporation of recycling is expected to heavily cut costs, while providing a solution to Rwanda’s increasing waste problem. “This will be ecologically friendly and it will put to good use the plastic bottles that are dumped around but also improve the services we give to Rwandans,” Yoshida said.

Yoshida unveiled her organization’s ambitious new project on November 6th at an official ceremony with the Japanese government, who has agreed to partially fund the project. According to Japanese ambassador Takayuki Miyashita, “this is one of the projects in Rwanda that represents bilateral partnership between Rwanda and Japan, [and] that is why we are willing to support the project to see others of the kind come up in the future.” Miyashita was happy to report that Mulindi Japan One Love will continue to receive support from the Japanese government, in addition to funds provided by private Japanese donors and patrons.

Since launching two decades ago, the Mulindi Japan One Love initiative has trained over 10 Rwandan Orthopedic technicians in the production of prosthetic limbs, with some going on to open private centers in order to reach a wider population. One of those technicians is Patrick Ngoga, a beneficiary of the project since childhood, and the director of the Centre International Orthopedique, which supports over 2,500 patients in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “There is no big achievement like being able to help other disabled persons after being helped to study in Japan. My plan is to carry on this work to give back to the community as much as I can,” Ngoga said.

As part of the official ceremony, Mami Rudasingwa Yoshida and Emmanuel Gatera Rudasingwa were awarded a certificate by Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida, in recognition of distinguished service in promoting a friendly relationship between Japan and Rwanda, as well as other nations in the East African region.

 

 

 

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