I must say, the Ob/Gyn team is doing amazing things. They have visited numerous health centers, trained dozens of nurses, and have been well-received. Their days are not much different from one day to the next in terms of what they actually do. However, there is no standard of care in Rwanda, so they see how vastly different each clinic is from the next. Some have electricity, some do not. Some have water, some do not. They all share a common theme: "Please come back and train us some more. We want to learn."
One of the great paradoxes we see here is that there is a tenacity and determination in the people and its government. They are determined that "the story of Rwanda" is not told through the eyes of the 1994 genocide. They want it to be a story of "rags to riches." Based on the amount of development that has happened in the nine months since we were here last, it looks like they are on their way. The paradox is that they have 70% unemployment and they are still ranked as one of the 20 poorest countries in the world.
Rwanda has much to teach us. Recently, the US media ran a story about suicides related to the depressed global economy. When this story was told to a couple of young Rwandans, they responded, “Try living in a refugee camp.” A large percentage of Rwandans have spent a portion of their lives in refugee camps.
A few quick notes . . . We had dinner with the wife of Rwanda’s British ambassador. Great lady. She is the only ambassador’s spouse who works in Rwanda. We had dinner at the house of the Medical University’s Family Medicine program director. The director, his wife, and their friends who joined all have hearts of gold.
The meals and conversations were very engaging. Our newest member, Catherine noted tonight that the genocide is the main topic of discussion at every dinner.
Today, I visited Ecole Belge, a Belgian school, Kigali International Community School, and Greenhills Academy. All three schools appear to be excellent. Ecole Belge is French speaking, the other two are English. Greenhills has the highest percentage of Rwandese students.
The Rwandan government has decreed that ALL education will be done in English. Ecole Belge is exempt from this law. There are an estimated 45,000 teachers in Rwanda who do not speak English. In order to retain their jobs, they must be fluent (yes, fluent) in English by January 2010. Greenhills is already teaching in English (they used to be French). I have a meeting with their director tomorrow over lunch.
When I arrived at Greenhills today, the security guard spoke to my guide, Claude, in KinyaRwandan. Then he turned to an errant Rwandese boy and corrected the boy in English. This happened twice. It takes discipline to do switch languages like that, especially since everyone around speaks KinyaRwandan. I was quite impressed.
Oh, by the way, we have now been without running water for three days. We are down to the last 10 gallons of clean water in the holding bucket. We are now planning and strategizing our laundry cleaning, our toilet use, etc. Luckily, we have friends who are staying in a hotel.