Double the fun. Double blessing. Double delight. Having twins is definitely a double dose of joy, but parents of twins will admit that it is not always easy.
Florence Kampire, gave birth to twins; a daughter and son in 2018. At the time, the 35-year-old mother lived in Kamutwa Cell, Kacyiru Sector, Gasabo District before her husband decided to relocate the family of seven to Kiyovu to keep them afloat.
Without work and belonging to the second category of Ubudehe, this family decided to appeal to her local leaders in Inkingi Village when the babies were still four months old, and they promised to do something. However, she now says it is as if they forgot about the promise a year and half later now.
“Before I gave birth to these babies, I used to go out and look for something to do and earn some money. But today, it is not possible, because I can neither leave them alone at home nor walk with them every day and, besides, I cannot afford to employ a babysitter,” she said.
After she gave birth at Kacyiru Hospital, her village health extensionists also visited her at home and promised to assist her in terms of advocacy. She kept waiting but only for a not so rosy answer. She was disappointed to learn that they could not do anything about it at all.
These kids, Claire Nishimwe and Jean Paul Nisingizwe are doing well, but this week Nishimwe fell sick and had to be rushed to the hospital.
When Taarifa caught up with her on Monday, Kampire was holding the twins, one on her back and another on her chest. She was on her way back from Kacyiru Hospital where she had gone to look for the baby’s cure.
Kampire and her husband Jean Paul Nsanzabaganwa usually spend Rwf21000 per year for the health premiums of seven people, but because they don’t have a tangible source of income, their health premiums have expired, and they have not yet found some money to pay for ‘Mutuelle de Santé’.
Consequently, doctors didn’t treat the baby. They told her that the bill would be much higher if she were to pay 100% on her own. So, she decided to go back home until she gets money and take her to private clinics.
However, Kampire says that were she to get her own house, she would then be able to raise these kids and invest Rwf30000 that she has to pay for rent per month, in some other business.
“If I got my own house, I would do my best to ensure that my children are well-fed, have access to healthcare. As a business, I may go back into a business of selling vegetables and fruit, because this is what I used to do before I gave birth to these twins,” she said.
Twins in the Rwandan culture
However, Modeste Nzayisenga Rutangarwamaboko, founder of Rwanda Cultural Health Centre reveals that the Rwandan culture considers twins a blessing that earn their parent superficial respect and healing powers.
“In the Rwandan culture, married couples are not allowed to greet their in-laws. Your spouse’s parents should be the first to say their greetings and bless you. However, giving birth to twins gave you automatic blessings and authority to greet and bless your in-laws,” he says.
Parents who had twins also had supernatural healing powers, and would cure rare illnesses, oral thrush in children and eye herpes by spitting on the affected area.
He reveals that this practice is still used by some Rwandans, who use their saliva mixed with a traditional herb.
Also, twins were not allowed to clean the kraals at home as it was believed to kill the cows that slept in that kraal.
It was forbidden to punish a twin and leave the other, as this would emotionally hurt the unpunished one.
Twins were also required to wed on the same day because it was believed that the one left behind was going to live in misfortune the rest of his or her life and never find a spouse. Alternatively, the one who was not getting married was not allowed in his or her counterpart’s wedding ceremony.