Rwandan girl with clubbed feet, returns to visit Austin doctors who changed her life

Rebecca Uwitonze was born with arthrogryposis, a joint disorder and clubbed feet, something that worried her family for years.

“They used to say, ‘Are you going to walk on the tops of your feet or is God going to do a miracle?’” she said about her family growing up.

That miracle came when she was nine years old.

“My husband met her on a trip to Rwanda. He noticed her feet, he noticed her hands and he noticed her smile,” said Meredith Davis, Rebecca’s host mother.

The Davis family volunteered to be a host family for her and Dell Children's Medical Center offered to pay to correct her feet in 2013.

“She didn't speak English. She left her family, she flew across the ocean to live with strangers,” said Davis.

After close to a year of treatment and surgeries Rebecca was feeling better, and walking better.

“Life was hard because I used to walk on the top of my feet. I was feeling a lot of pain. Now I walk so well and don’t feel any pain at all,” said Uwitonze.

She returned to Dell on Feb. 26 to check in with doctors. 


Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!

Download for iOS or Android


“The result we saw today was pretty amazing. It should be really cool to see over the years to come, what she’s going to be,” said Dr. Robert Dehne, pediatric orthopedist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

Now at 17, her book she and Meredith wrote, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. She attended that ceremony last weekend in California.

Her book is called "Her Own Two Feet: a Rwandan Girl's Brave Fight to Walk."

“There were five books in our category. I don't know how we got nominated. I was just so honored,” said Davis.

Meredith said when Rebecca was living with them and learning English, one day she said she was strong like a butterfly.

“At the time we thought it was funny she was thinking of something small fragile and frail. Then I thought, butterflies are really strong. Monarchs fly from Canada to Mexico and you flew from Rwanda to America. You are a strong girl,” said Davis, thinking of Uwitonze.

Butterflies are also beautiful and Rebecca hopes her story can inspire others to never give up when life becomes challenging.

“Every problem that comes out it has its answers. Don’t worry about anything because God is already there,” she said.

Rebecca will return to Rwanda in a few weeks. Although they did not win the NAACP Image Award, they felt honored to be nominated and invited to the star-studded ceremony.

Rebecca was sponsored by the Africa New Life organization. They hold a partnership with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. Rebecca continues to be in the care of A.N.L .through her sponsorship as a student. To get involved and possibly sponsor a student like Rebecca, please visit the Africa New Life organization's website.