Week #1 Recap

Our first week in Rwanda was both informative and fun. We met many great people and learned a lot about the direction for Tech Connect in Rwandan BMET culture.

Our first visit with Bosco at Kibagabaga was our first interview and gave us a very unique perspective. More about that visit can be found in the previous blog post.

We then visited Rwamagana, another District Hospital, on Wednesday where we met Cyprien.

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Thursday we visited the teaching hospital in Kigali, CHUK. We met Abdoul and Innocent there who were both helpful in how to implement Tech Connect at their more advanced training level while also helping us think about who could potentially pay for this product. They were a fun group and we all have some new Facebook friends and Twitter followers!

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They were very busy at the teaching hospital, so we spent the afternoon translating some notes in the hotel room before Brittany, Phani, and I walked to Caplaki Vilage, the craft market close to town. I was able to pick up a painting for my mom, which is a tradition of ours for every place my brother or I have visited. When we came back, the 5 of us played some games from Egyptian Rat Screw to Fish Bowl. It was a fun night to kick off a fun weekend.

SAFARI FRIDAY! Originally, we were going to meet up with some IPRC students, but as it was their last day of exams, had to be postponed. That meant that Tech Connect could take some time to also have a little fun and so we visited Akegara National Park. We were able to spend the afternoon searching the landscape for zebras, hippos, and water (fancy) buffalos with our guide James. It was an incredible experience, minus the horse flies that kept biting us. We wanted to come back to the hotel to watch The Lion King, but ended up passing out before that could take place.

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Saturday was spent with more fun on the agenda as we started the day with laundry. More specifically, everyone else did laundry while I watch the Olympics recap. Phani and Brittany, however, were the ones who injured themselves doing laundry – getting some blood on their clothes they then had to wash even more. Needless to say, they probably aren’t doing laundry again any time soon.

Saturday afternoon we went to the Genocide Memorial, which was by far the most emotional moment of our trip thus far. We were able to learn so much about Rwanda’s history – a history that happened a little over 20 years ago and within our lifetime. There were two moments during the walk through that are etched into my mind. One of the instigating moments for the genocide was the shooting down of the President’s plane on April 6th, 1994. That was the day after I was born. It was shocking to see that during my first few days in the world, something so tragic and extreme was happening half a world away. The second portion of the tour that struck me was the Children’s Room. This was a memorial for just some of the young children that were lost in this terrible period. What shocked me was the photos that were followed by some information about the child within – such as their favorite food, favorite song, favorite drink, characteristics, and lastly, how they died. To see a photo of 6 year old whose favorite song was a church hymn and learn their last memory was of their mother being killed before being killed themselves by a machete was the most emotional moment for me. Knowing such a young life was taken way too soon by a horror I can’t even imagine is nearly debilitating.

Saturday night we went out to dinner with Costica, who has been so helpful during our time here. We went to a place called Pili Pili that had the best pizza and great drinks. The music was the highlight as they played mostly American songs with a DJ twist. Arman was in love and got the DJ’s number so he can get the music later on.

Sunday we travelled to Kibuye, the gorgeous area located by Lake Kivu 3 hours away from Kigali, and checked in to Home Saint Jean and awaited the arrival of Welcome, a BMET from Bushenge. He is going to be attending school in India for his PhD and while waiting for the program to start, came to stay with us. Once he arrived, we went down to a hotel by the shore for some drinks with him and his friend Oliver.

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Monday we interviewed Welcome and headed to Kibuye Hospital, the Referral Hospital in town where we also interviewed Normand. When walking in, a little boy walked up to Arman and Welcome to hold their hands and I was able to capture the adorable moment.

However, it was Assumption for the Rwandan Catholic Church and thus we kept the day short to give Normand time at home with his family. We went to lunch to a local place in town where we learned for a second night in a row that a 1.5 hour wait for food is common, which also meant that Arman was dying. After what turned into a late lunch, we headed back to change into a swim suits – it was time to hit the lake! We took a boat to an island, one we deemed “Lonely Cow Island” because rumor has it that one sole cow lives on the island, which was evident by the manure Phani, Brittany, and Maddy found on their island exploration. I took the time to read and relax as the storm began to roll in. Unfortunately, our time was cut short due to the lightening and we headed back to the mainland. The ride back gave great views of the lightening. After dinner at the hotel, we stayed watching the lightning storm where I was able to capture a really cool video of 3 consecutive lightning strikes including this still below:

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That brings us to right now: Tuesday. Doran and Arman are shadowing Normand for the day while Brittany, Phani, and I are catching up on blog posts, notes transcriptions, and contact compilation. We’ll keep you updated on the good, bad, and the ugly as we continue our adventure here in Rwanda for the next two weeks!

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