Friday, May 23, 2014

Off to Adventure!

It's been a whirlwind of events getting ready for this trip and now it is finally here! Tomorrow begins the 19 hour journey to Kigali, Rwanda where I'll learn a new language and culture, meet amazing people, and have the opportunity to use my engineering skills to support a local hospital.  Having just finished final exams, it hasn't really sunk in yet that I'll actually be in Rwanda for 9 weeks starting tomorrow, but I'm excited for the experiences that are to come.  The outpouring of love and support from family and friends has been absolutely incredible and a true blessing!  Thank you to all for your continued prayers for safety and the work that the group will be involved with.

Just to give a brief background on the trip, I will be with 23 other college students from across the U.S. and abroad who are majoring in engineering or physics disciplines.  Run by Engineering World Health (EWH), the Summer Institute program takes place in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Nicaragua.  The first month is spent learning the culture, the language, and how to troubleshoot device problems.  For the second month, the group of 24 is split into smaller groups and then dispersed to separate hospitals throughout the country.

To explain the title of my blog for this summer, I was trying to find a title that would capture both the work that was being done in the hospitals and the country as a whole.  It is estimated that over 70% of the medical equipment found in developing countries is broken and unused.  Through the Summer Institute and training programs for Rwandan citizens, Rwandan hospitals are being provided the resources to repair their broken equipment and make it viable for improving health care services.  This summer also marks the 20th anniversary of a horrendous genocide that occurred in the country.  Significant progress has been made to recover from this, but the country as a whole is still repairing.