Sunday's moving day! After 4 quick and intense weeks of lectures on medical equipment, labs for repairs, and language lessons, our groups are heading to our respective hospitals Sunday morning. For the past 4 weeks, we have enjoyed a very plush life in Kigali, but it will be as if we are traveling to an entirely new country once we leave the lucrative city and head to the more rural areas. The nine groups will be spread through-out the entire country, from the northern mountain region bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to the southern rain forest region bordering Burundi, to the eastern grassland bordering Tanzania. At lunch the one day, we were all joking that the first month has been our survival skills training, and now we are being deployed to our hospitals where we will be on our own for the next 5 weeks.
Casey and I will be traveling to Rwamagana, located in the Eastern Province and only about 1 hour outside of Kigali. We fortunately have a very short trip, but some other groups will be traveling 3-5 hours to reach their hospitals. Prayers for safe travels and safety during the next 5 weeks are greatly appreciated as these areas are not as secure as Kigali. One group will be traveling to Gisenyi which is located right on the border between Rwanda and the DRC and frequently has skirmishes across the border. Last week there were a few deaths there, but supposedly this is typical for the region and EWH is closely monitoring it. The other 8 locations will be safer than Gisenyi, but there still are possible risks as we leave the secure compound of IPRC in Kigali.
|A map of where each group will be going to. Currently, we are in Kicukiro which is around the 'N' in Rwanda on the map and I will be heading to the red marker directly to the east.|
Although Rwamagana is only 1 hour outside of Kigali, it is a very small and rural town. The hospital is smaller than the ones we have visited in Kigali (CHUK and Kanombe) but is growing. During our time there, Casey and I will be staying at the hospital director's home which is only about 500m away from the hospital. Technically we are staying with a host family, but the director only occasionally stays at the house when he is traveling, so we will pretty much have the house to ourselves in addition to a houseworker and a guard at night.
For the first week, we will mainly be going to all of the wards to meet staff and to take a detailed inventory of all the equipment to see what needs repairs. Weeks 2-5, we will be working with 2 biomedical engineering technicians (BMETs) at the hospital to repair as much equipment as possible, as well as teaching the staff how to perform some of the repairs and about the importance of preventative maintenance. For the first 2 weeks we are there, one of the BMETs will actually be at IPRC attending some training classes so it will just be Casey, I, and the other BMET who pretty much only knows French. I better start seriously studying my French! In addition to the one BMET being in Kigali, the director will actually be in Nairobi, Kenya for the first 2 weeks we are there which makes things pretty interesting for Casey and I because we will literally be on our own. Hopefully on Saturday we will be able to meet the director before he heads out since when we arrive on Sunday he will already be in Nairobi. Without the director or the English speaking BMET to show us around, it's going to be very interesting the first week as we try to meet all of the staff and take inventory.
Despite being thrown in the deep end with minimal flotation devices, I'm very excited to head to Rwamagana and begin working in the hospital. Over the next 5 weeks, I hope to build some strong relationships with the staff there and be able to make a small, sustainable impact. As I begin the second month here and start to really delve into the intent of the trip, I ask for prayers for patience as that will be one of the main keys. Working in Rwanda is a completely different pace than working in the States, and sometimes waiting 1 hour for someone to bring you a part can become very frustrating. Patience will also be key as I struggle with Kinyarwandan and French while trying to teach some staff how to operate devices that I may have just learned how to operate a day ago. More importantly, pray for God's continued work at the hospital as the over-worked staff treat hundreds of patients with a wide range of conditions.