Inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport

HERVE IRADUKUNDA

Herve was born in exile and became a refugee by default. His parents moved to South Africa in 1997 and he has lived there ever since as a refugee. Herve was always a good student and was very much involved in sport.

In their quest for a more stable situation and a permanent home country for Herve, his younger brother William and their parents it was with such joy relief and happiness when France granted them permanent residency.

However on 22nd November 2010 just two days before their departure to France a car hit Herve whilst he was playing football with his friends leaving him paralysed from the neck down. He was moved into an Intensive Care Unit and underwent spinal cord surgery a few days later. He was in hospital for four months before moving to a rehabilitation ward.

Despite the unthinkable the family decided to go ahead with the permanent home country residency opportunity and Herve's mother and brother left for France. His only support in Groote Schuur Hospital was his father Materne Mwumvaneza who visited every day sitting by his bed side and attending to his son's needs. This put the family in a terrible situation, the mother and brother in a new country but with a paralysed teenager who needed permanent care and an unemployed father whose time was taken up caring for his son.

FOUNDATION'S SUPPORT

We were made aware of Herve's situation when Matt received a personal email from Emma Wylie a physio who used to work with Matt when he was in Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Emma had taken a voluntary physio position on the only state-run, dedicated spinal cord injury unit in South Africa and one of her patients was Herve. Matt knew he wanted to do something to help Herve we just needed to work out how best the Foundation could do this.

As luck would have it Chairman of Trustees of the Foundation Roy Jackson had recently visited Cape Town for a friend's wedding and had met up with Morne du Plessis (Chairman) and Gail Ross (General Manager) of the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson Players Fund (www.playersfund,org.za). Roy immediately contacted Gail who had already heard of Herve's plight and the wheels were put into motion. Within weeks the Players Fund in South Africa had made their first grant to a non rugby related injury on humanitarian grounds to the fund to reunite Herve and his father with the rest of their family in France. They were also able to encourage other agencies including the French embassy to assist in arranging Herve's safe passage to Paris. With the final donation of £5000 from the Matt Hampson Foundation there was sufficient funds for Herve and all the required medical personnel and his father to fly to Paris, and this is exactly what they did on Sunday 4th July 2011.

Message from Herve's Father Materne 'I don't know even where to start saying thank you not only from me but everyone in the family. We are still overwhelmed by this news. Miracles do happen and God has many ways to resolve problems, for us the Matt Hampson Foundation will always be his angels he sent to us. We are extremely humbled by this donation and words can't be enough to convey our gratitude to everyone who made this happen.'

We will keep you up to date with news on Herve's progress when we have it but due to Matt's quick intervention and a touch of luck the Foundation has played a huge part in reuniting Herve with his family but also probably saving this young man's life.

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