Days 9, 10 and 11: The wind-down
Over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, it became clearer and clearer which people would remain as friends forever.
Most of the last few days are a blur to me. Almost every plan I had in my book was delayed or eliminated and I found myself flying by the seat of my pants, responding to last minute requests. I have been taking photos of the hotel staff, who are very shy (as is common in Rwanda). By now, some have had the courage to request more photos. So, in the middle of running errands for our team, I would occasionally stop by the hotel and do a quick photo shoot. Here are a couple of my favorite hotel staff photos.
The basic highlights include Le being all but offered a job at Rwanda’s top hospital, King Fisel Hospital, having dinner with the head of USAID-Rwanda, having lunch with the British ambassador to Rwanda and his wife, and lastly, making a fool of myself by being on stage dancing with a Ugandan beauty. I promise not to give up my day job. J
I was able to take a day and catch a ride out to Partners in Health (see http://www.pih.org/home.html) and see their remote health center. Very organized. Probably more organized than the clinics we have visited thus far. They are in the process of building a new hospital scheduled to open by the end of the summer. While there, we met a mother who had recently given birth to a little girl. It was a home birth. The girl had some serious problems, as you can see from the picture. Mom took the baby to her region’s health center, which referred her to her regional district hospital. Because Rwanda’s national health care program only pays up to 90% of all costs, people have to pay the balance up front. This mom had no money, so the hospital turned her away. She made the long trek to Partners in Health, which turns no one away. They made the referral to the hospital, the cost of which will be covered by PIH. Smart mom. Anyway, it is difficult to know exactly what is wrong with the baby, though the doctor at the health center told us he believed it might be spina bifida. Notice that the baby’s head is sort of caved in and there is what appears to be a meningeal sack or flap behind her head. Based on my limited understanding of Rwandan medical care, I suspect Mom will be told her baby will die. Please take a look at PIH’s website and consider supporting them. Truly amazing. The book, “Mountains beyond mountains” is a great look at Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health. It is an inspiring story.
The following picture is a man I met after church this morning. He does not know exactly when he was born, but he knows he was born when the Germans pulled out of Africa after World War 1. That would make him in his early 90s. He is the first person I have seen with as much or more white hair than I have. He thought it was funny that a musungu would love African men so much. I took his picture with the friend who took me to mass with her, then printed it with my photo printer and gave each of them a copy. The pictures I give seem to have great value for the Rwandans.
At this point, we have already said all our good-byes and have completed the projects we set out to do. The Batwa de-worming project and data collection was finished today (I did not go because I was at mass) and those who had presentations are done. The only thing we have planned for tomorrow is to visit three more health centers to complete our fact finding. For our next trip, I think we will have to recruit those who speak French and/or KinyaRwandan. It would have helped especially during trainings and surgeries.
Though I have not mentioned Eddie much during these blogs, I must show our latest picture of him. He was such an amazing guide and mentor! Le, Sara, Miranda and I decided to give him a going away present. We took one of our tie-dye shirts and wrote our names on it in permanent marker. Here he is with it on in a picture with us.
For our next trip here, Le and I expect to visit the international school and the American school to discuss our children’s education.
Lastly, we are all beginning to wonder if we have gained weight, strange as it may sound.
I love you all and miss you terribly.