Friday, July 5, 2013

Last entry from Rwanda

Friday, July 5, 2013

Well, Dear Readers, this is my last entry from Rwanda. I leave in just five more days, July 10. Because I want to record some of my reactions upon returning to the U.S. after a year in a very different culture, I will continue to make some entries once I get to Illinois. So.....it ain't over till its over!!

I've been trying to get rid of Rwandan francs but I'm afraid I went too far. Now I may need to do some fancy dancing at my bank in Kigali. One of my drivers who owed me 15,000 francs (for fuel I bought him) sent it up to me today from Kigali. I thought I'd never see it again. I have found the Rwandans I've dealt with to be quite honest and ethical. Nice to know these habits still exist. Or maybe it is just out in the rural areas. Paul Kagame runs a pretty tight ship in the urban areas as well, though. Maybe a little too tight.

The rooster and the cows are singing to me. If only I'd had a dog here, it would have been perfect.

I said my good-byes at the hospital this morning at a staff meeting. The staff and faculty are having some sort of "do" here at the school for me on Monday. We'll see what that is.

Hope you've enjoyed this blog. I kind of ran out of steam during the last six months. It just seemed like there was not as much going on or there wasn't as much going on that was noteworthy. I was just working for Mr. Clinton!

Don't abandon me yet. Stay tuned for stateside musings.

Carrol, etc.





Sunday, June 9, 2013

This and that

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Five weeks from today I'll be on that big silver bird heading for Chicago!

Friday, JUNE 7, 2013

Actually, I just found out I'll be leaving here on Wed., July 10 and arriving in Chicago on July 11. Even better!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I seem to be having difficulty finishing this blog entry. I'm determined to finish it tonight!

I've learned some things about my travel back to the midwest. I will only be allowed two bags of no more than 27 kilos each (that eliminates Julia). Whereas the Clinton Foundation paid for my extra baggage on the way over, no one will pay for it going home. Actually, these have helped me make a decision. I will likely leave quite a bit here in my house. I'll try just to pack my clothes and see what happens!

This coming Thursday Miriam and I will go to Kigali for shopping. She said she knows where some good shops are and I need to look for gifts. I will be looking for small items!

Jerome (the director of the school and for whom I am supposed to be the advisor, and I are considering how to set up an exchange between the students at UIC (my school in Chicago) and the Byumba school here. For one thing, we've been told that he should get his Visa while I am still here to vouch for him in person. That will take a good day at the American Embassy. They are slow there, and not particularly helpful. We also need to consider some logistics of such a project. I would love to see it happen. Both groups of students will be in culture shock, but it would be good for them all. And I'm hoping this project would earn me trips back to Rwanda and some trips to Chicago for Jerome who is most anxious to go there. We shall see.

The cow and her cowlet are doing fine. The little group of chickens on campus have suddenly taken up residence in my yard. They can eat a few bugs. They no longer lay eggs, and I have a feeling they are too tough to cook. They, however, add a little to the general landscape out here in the boonies. I went to Kigali yesterday afternoon so some of my friends could take me out for a farewell dinner. I actually saw that the sorghum growing in the valley has grown a little seed head on it. And, Mike, I've been told that sorghum is the basis for one of Rwanda's most advertised beers. (Called Primus). I drank some one time and did not find it pleasing!

The restaurant we went to for our dinner last night was interesting. They have only two things on the menu: grilled chicken, and grilled fish. They serve it without cutlery of any kind. You wash your hands at one of several stations around the room, then just dig in with your fingers and hands. The flavor of both meats was terrific and it was fun just to eat with our hands. I especially enjoyed the fish. They grill one big fish and put it on a platter for you to have your way with! Of course, we were all sharing, but I'm convinced I could have eaten that fish all by myself!

 A group of administrators at the school has asked me to show them how to make cornbread. I think I'll have them over next weekend to show them. Most of them do not have ovens, so we're going to discuss how to make it over coals or some sort of stove. Rwandans are not dessert eaters; they do not clamber for new recipes for "baked goods". But somehow they really liked the cornbread I made for some event this past year. I guess I'll leave my small mark in this way.

Well, off to bed to rest up for another busy week. I'm going to begin experimenting with my packing to see how much 23 kilos is!

My best to all of you.
CA, Mom, Ma, Carrol, G-ma

This and That

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Five weeks from today I'll be on that big silver bird heading for Chicago!

Friday, JUNE 7, 2013

Actually, I just found out I'll be leaving here on Wed., July 10 and arriving in Chicago on July 11. Even better!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I seem to be having difficulty finishing this blog entry. I'm determined to finish it tonight!

I've learned some things about my travel back to the midwest. I will only be allowed two bags of no more than 27 kilos each (that eliminates Julia). Whereas the Clinton Foundation paid for my extra baggage on the way over, no one will pay for it going home. Actually, these have helped me make a decision. I will likely leave quite a bit here in my house. I'll try just to pack my clothes and see what happens!

This coming Thursday Miriam and I will go to Kigali for shopping. She said she knows where some good shops are and I need to look for gifts. I will be looking for small items!

Jerome (the director of the school and for whom I am supposed to be the advisor, and I are considering how to set up an exchange between the students at UIC (my school in Chicago) and the Byumba school here. For one thing, we've been told that he should get his Visa while I am still here to vouch for him in person. That will take a good day at the American Embassy. They are slow there, and not particularly helpful. We also need to consider some logistics of such a project. I would love to see it happen. Both groups of students will be in culture shock, but it would be good for them all. And I'm hoping this project would earn me trips back to Rwanda and some trips to Chicago for Jerome who is most anxious to go there. We shall see.

The cow and her cowlet are doing fine. The little group of chickens on campus have suddenly taken up residence in my yard. They can eat a few bugs. They no longer lay eggs, and I have a feeling they are too tough to cook. They, however, add a little to the general landscape out here in the boonies. I went to Kigali yesterday afternoon so some of my friends could take me out for a farewell dinner. I actually saw that the sorghum growing in the valley has grown a little seed head on it. And, Mike, I've been told that sorghum is the basis for one of Rwanda's most advertised beers. (Called Primus). I drank some one time and did not find it pleasing!

The restaurant we went to for our dinner last night was interesting. They have only two things on the menu: grilled chicken, and grilled fish. They serve it without cutlery of any kind. You wash your hands at one of several stations around the room, then just dig in with your fingers and hands. The flavor of both meats was terrific and it was fun just to eat with our hands. I especially enjoyed the fish. They grill one big fish and put it on a platter for you to have your way with! Of course, we were all sharing, but I'm convinced I could have eaten that fish all by myself!

 A group of administrators at the school has asked me to show them how to make cornbread. I think I'll have them over next weekend to show them. Most of them do not have ovens, so we're going to discuss how to make it over coals or some sort of stove. Rwandans are not dessert eaters; they do not clamber for new recipes for "baked goods". But somehow they really liked the cornbread I made for some event this past year. I guess I'll leave my small mark in this way.

Well, off to bed to rest up for another busy week. I'm going to begin experimenting with my packing to see how much 23 kilos is!

My best to all of you.
CA, Mom, Ma, Carrol, G-ma

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Well, it’s been a while since I’ve made an entry in the old blog. I don’t have time for many more entries. 

I’ll be leaving Byumba on Thursday, July 11—less than two months from now. Once we got rolling, the time has really flown by.

Julia is growing so fast I can’t keep up with her. And between her and her mother, I think Julia is getting in the most “moos”. She can really let them rip.

I had to complete a new vacation and sick leave form for U. of I. this week. Once I leave here, I will have the remainder of July as vacation time. Wish I could go to some nice south sea island and really have a vacation. However, I’ll be preparing my fall classes, catching up on some IRB research stuff, and unpacking my house to try to make it livable before school begins. We’ll also be bidding farewell to Siena, son Mike’s older daughter, as she wends her way to New Orleans to attend her Freshman year at Tulane. I’m glad we still have a few years left at home with Serena, the younger daughter. She thinks it is going to be swell being the only child at home—I think she’ll find it gets old quickly.
Oh, yes. Sometime in here I must buy a car!

The school here at Byumba continues in it’s annual cycle. The first year students finally left to attend their first clinical practice sites. I am still going to try to get out to some of the Health Centers in the area (sort of like public health departments where there is also a midwife who delivers babies.) Toward the end of May I will have a presentation day for students and faculty. I will present the paper I have written based on the surveys Jerome, Rani-the-midwife, and I conducted at several different hospitals soon after our arrival. I will also present a brief paper about the healing powers of laughter. And finally, an ethnographic performance about the ride from Kigali to Byumba and what you see along the way. I still need to collect a little data for this one, but I could practically write it from memory as I’ve been on that return trip so many times.

I think we are finally past the big rainy season. It has not rained for about a week, although it has been quite cool. They tell me as the end of May comes, we will begin warmer weather and three months of the dry season (June, July and August). I’m ready for it! I have warm weather clothes I haven’t been able to wear for quite some time and my Chicago Bears long-sleeved t-shirt has seen better days!

Last week Jerome and I (the twins) attended a “Curriculum Review” workshop and got to go to a new (for me) place in Rwanda. We were supposed to have gone to Ruhingeri, the city where the gorillas are. At the last minute there was a landslide (after big rain) that came down on the main road. We couldn’t get to Ruhingeri So they changed everything quickly and we went to Rwawagama instead. We stayed in a guest house that once held nun’s cells—very quaint. We were sort of in a lock-down. They served us all our meals there plus two tea-times/day and the workshop space was adjacent to the guest house. This was not yet a change in the curriculum for all five of the nursing schools, but a review to see what we have. Since nursing is being moved over to the Ministry of Education instead of the Ministry of Health, we had to frame the curriculum more like the Education group does it. I thought a lot of it was boring. But there will be more in weeks to come. I told someone they wouldn’t pick me to do any more as I am generally too oppositional! We’ll see. In general, I think the entire curriculum needs to be re-designed, but I see a lot of “rubber stamping” going on. Some people just can’t let go.

I had to cab-it to the bank today to give them a passport photo. Two weeks ago they made me open a second account for my USDollars and demanded the photo. They were quite surly when I didn’t bring it in last Saturday. Yesterday I got a call from a young man who really brow-beat me (what is the past tense of "to browbeat"??) and said there would be dire consequences if I didn’t bring it today! This from a bank that does not even label its windows so one never knows quite where to go and where you sit in a long row of chairs awaiting your “turn” and move up the line while all the while others are cutting in. I do not do that as a muzungu must behave, but I surely want to sometimes.

The crows and the grasshoppers are back! I had 15-20 huge crows in my front yard one morning this past week, all cawing at once. I guess  it was a crow party. They can sure make a racket. My swiss chard is slowly dying out. I ate so much of it that I couldn’t eat any more. I think it thrives on being picked regularly. The grasshoppers have invaded my office, but no one else’s! They are not as plentiful as the scourge we had in the fall, but I don’t understand why my office. As soon as I open the door they begin jumping on me. They are up on the curtain rod, under my desk, everywhere! Then Anthere, Jerome’s assistant, wants to get “the girl” to come mop the floor which does little to deter the insects, as they are all over the room, not just on the floor.  Thus, a scene of domestic bliss in the administrative offices at Byumba School of Nursing and Midwifery. I will surely miss all the characters in these little plays. They are not like the plays in the College of Nursing, but many of the characters are the same!

Bye for now.
CA, Mom, Ma, Carrol, G-ma







Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I just finished washing the dishes. I had to hurry to do it before dark. The light in the kitchen is quite low and if I wait to do the dishes till after dark, I cannot see whether they are clean or not!

I had a trip to Kigali this week for a meeting, then a quick return to Byumba so I could attend a meeting with Jerome. The person who came for the meeting was from the "BEC" some sort of education group delivering good news/bad news. We will be receiving many such visitors in the next couple of months. Everything is being revised (curriculum, job categories, etc) Also, all the nursing schools are being moved from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education. Thus, all the visitors/inspectors.

I have found the Rwandans love declarations. Any piece of paper on which they can affix the school seal is good. But then, the storage of all that paper is problematic. It takes one full time person! So, all these visitors will be leaving stacks of paper. Jerome has to sign every request. He explained to me that many Rwandans cannot be trusted so every request has to have a paper trail.

Our weather is still fairly cool and with lots of rain. Can't wait for May.

I don't feel that I have much to say tonight. I am buckling down to finish projects, so spend a lot of time in my office. Jerome goes back and forth from Byumba to Kigali to Byumba again. I have to catch him on the fly. He favors Kigali as that is where his home and family are. His two big boys (6 yrs, and 4 yrs have decided they want me to come for a sleepover! I will probably decline as I might have to sleep with one or both of those wiggly little guys.

Julia is continuing to grow. I've never seen an animal grow so fast.

I think my supper is ready. Cornbread and fresh green beans.

So long for now,
CA




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013






Julia in her crib.

Carrol almost in the crib with Julia

Baby cow news! We now have a name for Julia. And I am attaching photos. The first is from outside the cow shed and you can only see her through the "slats" of her crib. The second one I took when I actually went into the cow shed and got right up by the crib. She is pretty skittish when I get that close, but will finally lick my hand with her slobbery mouth and nose. After the first several days of mostly sleeping, I went out and found Julia standing up in her crib and practicing her "moo-ing"--very quiet little attempts at sounding like a cow. At present, she can already moo like a big girl! I look for her to be climbing out of that crib one day soon.

I've been conducting more classes at the hospital of late which are mostly lots of fun. I can only understand English. There is usually someone who can interpret the French or Kinyarwanda, so that helps. I was to begin a series of ESL classes yesterday at 5PM when people get off work. (Day shift works 7A to 5P; night shift works 5P till 7A. Only two shifts.)Some of the nurses had asked me for the English classes. I was there in plenty of time and waited till almost 5:20. No one had showed up, so I left. The Dir. of Nursing called me before 8AM today asking what happened. After I told him my side, he said 10 people showed up sometime after 5:20. I don't believe him for a second--he's not a very reliable guy. I told him the reason we needed to start on time is that I have to walk home afterwards and I wanted to get home before dark. That is between 6 and 6:15. Rwandans are habitually late to everything, so I wasn't surprised that no one showed up on time. However, I'm sticking to my guns this time. It will be a massive amount of work to put on three classes/wk and they're going to have to cater to me!!

I'm writing a paper based on the interviews of the staff nurses, clinical instructors and students we surveyed soon after I got here-75 people altogether. It is turning out to be pretty interesting data. I want to get it finished up, however. It's been dragging on a bit too long.

I'm going to include some other photos here, of my Swiss Chard. It has lasted a very long time. Now, I can only stand to eat it about once/wk.
Julia said she had to see you one more time.








Gorgeous on the table, too!

















My March planting is coming along. I have Chinese cabbage, mixed salad greens, beets, and either zucchini or cucumbers (One came up and the other didn't) I'll definitely be eating these before I leave. I give a lot of chard away. No one so far has known what it was or how versatile it is for cooking.

That's all for now. Hope you enjoy the photos.
CA, G-ma, Ma, Mom, Carrol

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dear Faithful Readers:

Big news! Chelsea the cow gave birth last weekend to a baby girl cow. I haven't been able to think of a good name yet. The cow caretaker built her a little raised bed. Everytime I've been to see her she is asleep on her bed. I'll enjoy watching her grow until I leave.

My entry tonight will include no photos. I've had such a difficult time posting entries with photos, I cannot bear to try again just now. Twice I attempted to post pictures of our visit to a Maasai village in Tanzania, only to have all my work disappear just before I posted it. That's what did me in!

My life here in Byumba has taken a rather frantic turn and I expect it to remain this way pretty much until I leave for the U.S. I now go to the Byumba District Hospital to teach staff nurses and to look around for things they might need to do differently. The list grows long.

I am also observing random faculty members in their classrooms. Jerome wants me to develop a faculty evaluation form.

I also learned on Friday that I was being recommended for a position on a Curriculum Revision committee. If I end up on the committee, I will have to go away for four weeks (the weeks will be spread out) to a remote town to work on the undergraduate curriculum. That is going to eat into my time.

The hospital nursing education is not without difficulty. The physician's can speak English, but their preferred language is French. They even chart in French. The nurses speak only Kinyarwanda, and I speak only English!! Sometimes the docs will do some translating for the nurses. One day last week the Director of the Hospital came to a class and did a great job translating. Some of the nursing students also speak some English and can translate. But I never know what the combination of people will be in a given class. The doctors are beginning to sit in on the classes. There is little room in the hospital for people to gather for a class, so we are usually crammed into a very small space. Even with all these impediments, the classes have gone well. People participate, ask questions, and ask me to return. I don't think they are used to getting this kind of attention.

I was in Kigali on Friday and Saturday for meetings and a party. Just came home in the early afternoon today. I now stay in a hotel when I must stay overnight in Kigali. Don, Kate (my brother and daughter) and I stayed at the Golf Hills Residence in January. They were very nice to us and I have been back several times since then. It's more like a B&B than a hotel. They have a lovely breakfast that is part of the fee for a room. I had begun to feel as if I were imposing too frequently on the families of my two friends, so this is perfect.

I'm done for tonight. I will try to be a more regular "blogger" once again. And may gradually try some photos. But not right away.

Have a good week.
Carrol

P.S. We have begun the "big rainy season" which falls in March and April. It rains nearly every day, and rains in torrents. One evening I was sitting in my dining room while a lot of lightening flashed with the rain. Suddenly I saw lightning strike in my kitchen! That was a little too close for me!