Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I have not had enough time to blog this week. Last year we sat around waiting and waiting to get going. But this year, things are definitely more organized. We are up early and start our days by 8:00am.
I have made a few observations lately. There are clearly more muzungus here in Rwanda than there were last year. Some of our business contacts have confirmed for us that the number of muzungus have sharply risen over the last year. Unlike last year, we are not seeing so many kids yell and point at us, “Muzungu, muzungu, muzungu!” I have also noticed more beggars, some of them children – even though begging is against the law. I have noticed that there is a clear difference between our first experience and our second. (Two members of our team are new. They needed lots of time to adjust to the culture. Admittedly, we neglected to properly educate and transition them.) I have noticed that . . . how do I say this . . . there are lots of things I did not notice last time.
Today I received some training in KinyaRwandan and then went into the ghetto with my friend, Claude. Unlike the USA, there is virtually no violent crime here – not even in the ghetto. It is funny how Rwandans look at strangers. If you were in downtown Philadelphia, you would swear that the person was determined to have a fight. Rwandans are areserved and serious people. Their facial expressions reflect their seriousness and at first, looks like anger or disdain. But once I say, “Muraho!” they smile and reply, “Muraho, amakuru!” So, I was in the ghetto where muzungus rarely go. I did not see any muzungus all day today, which was a first for this trip.
Claude showed me the market and the house in which he was born. That house is now a bar owned by Claude’s childhood friend. I spent much of the afternoon with Claude’s friends, playing Dom, a game similar to Checkers. I did not do very well, but I am determined to go back and win one. We later shared some weak whiskey and goat bruchettes (skewered goat meat).
Le spent her day teaching. The Ob-Gyn portion of the team is doing VERY well. They are visiting two clinics per day, training their nurses on delivery techniques. In Rwanda, virtually all family health care is delivered by nurses. In their system, birthing is considered a natural process, which means that nurses do almost all of the medical deliveries. Considering all that we have learned about Rwanda’s system, which includes talking to the director of the medical university’s family medicine program, we are certain we are on the best track: train the nurses in medical clinics because they need it most and because they are the ones doing the actual medical care. (Doctors are in short supply and generally end up being hospital administrators. There are currently a total of 400 doctors in Rwanda – only 11 of them are surgeons – serving a population of nearly 10 million people.)
By the way, we have been without running water for over two days now. Our water reserves are seriously depleted. We are being increasingly judicious in our use of the water. It’s a little like “dry camping” in a motorhome. At some level, we like the fact that it is not bothering us. It makes us feel good.
Tomorrow I go to visit some schools. Thursday, we are supposed to visit the Minister of Health. Friday, I check out USAID, WHO, Peace Corps, etc.