Rwandan Man Gets New Prosthetic Arms After Amputation As Boy

D.L. Chandler July 17, 2014

Patrick Mbarushimana

Patrick Mbarushimana‘s (pictured) story is one of hope and resilience despite would could have been a debilitating disability. In 1997, when he was 6 years old, Mbarushimana met a journalist who was taken aback by how the boy’s arms were amputated. Now 23, Mbarushimana’s fortunes have changed as a result of the love and guidance from his adopted guardians.

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Mbarushimana’s amputated arms have a curious origin. While he doesn’t recall all of the actual details, he told CNN producer Ingrid Formanek in 1997 that his father burned them off. Others in his small village said that they remember Mbarushimana’s father leaving him in a forest tied to a tree and he became infected with gangrene.

At the time, the region was still under siege by warring Hutus and the Rwandan government, after widespread genocide besieged the nation. Mbarushimana’s punishment by his father may have been related to him speaking with rebel forces and hosting them in the home, and soon after, Mbarushimana’s father was apparently killed by rebel soldiers.

Mbarushimana was orphaned and taken to a local hospital, where his arms were amputated at the elbow on his right arm and just below the shoulder on his left.

When Formanek went to the hospital to talk with survivors and do a story on the recent massacres, she became attached to Mbarushimana and later became his guardian. Partnering with lawyer and former Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama who adopted the boy, Mbarushimana was cared for both financially and emotionally.

Mbarushimana is currently a first-year student at the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics. Living a largely normal life, his guardians have valiantly sought artificial arms to aid Mbarushimana. Recently in Massachusetts at the United Prosthetics Center in Dorchester, Mbarushimana was outfitted with new arms as reported by CNN.

Amazingly enough, not having arms didn’t limit Mbarushimana. His is a self-taught artist and rapper who uses the stage name Puzzle, and he maintains a can-do attitude and ambition. Mbarushimana didn’t allow his physical impairment to limit his dreams.

Above all, he thanked his guardians for what they’ve done for him.

“These guardians have become my parents from then up until now. I am who I am because of them,” he said.

Watch Mbarushimana’s story here:


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Last Edited by:iboateng Updated: September 15, 2018


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