Saturday, September 8, 2012


Quite a week with lots to tell!

I mentioned Rani Kahn's arrival in my entry of 9/4/12. She did arrive Wednesday night immediately prior to an hour-long power outage! Rani, Jerome, and I sat in my living room with flashlights trying to visit while Jerome got inundated with phone calls. (That's how every meeting with Jerome goes! Cell phone seems to be his preferred method of communication. He answers all calls and tries to dispatch the callers quickly) Just about the time the power finally came on, I could see that Rani was not going to last any longer! We got her back to her house where she slept for a long time. Rani is a midwife who will be mentoring the faculty and student midwives at our Byumba hospital and probably at some other hospitals as well.

My first week of work was quite busy and very rewarding. It appears that in Jerome's eyes I can do no wrong! I met the faculty in a meeting on the very first day. Jerome always introduces me as "Dr. Carrol"; nurses here are not used to thinking that someone can have a PhD in nursing, so they nearly always ask questions about this. 

On Tuesday, I asked if I could attend a class of the "e-learning" students. I actually joined in the discussion at the end of the class and decided I would like to present a small topic with the students. They were discussing things you could do if a patient were anxious or depressed related to a long hospital stay or worry about other matters. I piped up and said we should make them laugh!! The students were very unsure about laughter as a healing method. So, Monday morning at 8AM I will talk about the physiology of laughter and all the healing powers from that physiology. Mike (my son) helped me find a clip from a Marx Brothers film that will demonstrate the power of laughter in a group; I also found a great clip from you-tube showing a penguin being tickled and dissolving in fits of laughter; finally, I found a clip of a baby (maybe about 6 mos. old) going into gales of laughter when someone tears a piece of paper!  I think this will all provoke some discussion and help the students see that there may be creative ways to use themselves in healing. Jerome also reminded me that there were several years after the genocide when no one felt like laughing here, so I will include that in the discussion.

The Friday workshop I mentioned before went  very well. I had to tell Jerome he could not attend as I thought the faculty might not be as free with their comments if he were there. He was surprised, but agreed. The workshop was to discuss the gaps in the use of nursing process at our school and with nurses at the hospital. About 22 faculty attended. They really worked hard at identifying the gaps (or problems). Now they think they are ready to try to find some remedies. We will meet again next Friday AM to begin that work.

I must tell you about "Rwanda time". When Jerome sent out the notice about the workshop he told the attendees to come at 8AM. (The scheduled start time was 9AM). When I asked him about this he said he has to tell people 8AM so they will actually be here by 9AM! And then because of various interferences, our workshop did not even begin till 9:30AM! That seems to be about the way things go. No one but me gets exercised about the lateness! The first time Jerome was to pick me up in Kigali he told me to be ready by 8AM. I was ready and waiting outside the apartments for him to arrive in his car.--He didn't arrive until 9:30AM. I think I can adjust to this, but I never remember that this is commonplace. I keep expecting people to be "on time" then I realize they are not going to be and I'm frustrated. I need just to let go of that! It is definitely a cultural thing.

This morning (Saturday, 9/8) Jacqueline accompanied me to the town market in Byumba. We took a cab as I am cautioned against riding a moto-taxi. Many people were walking toward the market. Saturday is a big market day. Part of the market is under a big tin roof with stall after stall of goods. It is very dark inside the building unless one has a stall along the outer edge. There are also sellers who just spread their wares outside on the ground. I had told Jacqueline that I wanted to buy a couple of long-sleeved T-shirts and a sweatshirt. She had told me to expect only second hand garments. I found a t-shirt right away that said "Chicago Bears--2010 Conference Champions". I couldn't resist even though I rarely follow football. Then I found a sweatshirt that says "Trinity College--Dublin". That, too tickled me and they were both the right size. Almost everything in the way of Ts or sweatshirts has some logo on it. Jacqueline said no one here knows what the logos represent, they just buy them! I saw shirts like those in China with "made up" logos or names of colleges that are really funny. I also bought a blanket as I must dress the other two beds in my house before I can have company. Jacqueline did all the bargaining for me, thank goodness. After the dry goods, we walked to another section of the market for the food. It was pretty much like the open air market in Kigali only without the dried fish and the beans. I bought beets, passion fruit, green beans, and spinach. Again, Jackie haggled. I long to do that for myself, but my white skin marks me as a target immediately. Jackie said the woman initially asked twice as much for the beets as she should have, but since Jackie knew the right price she immediately said she would only pay the right price. The woman agreed to that right away. Finally, I was beginning to feel very claustrophobic in that dark place and I had to get out! I was satisfied with my purchases. The market is a swirl of people, lots of children clamoring to shake my hand. One little toddler wouldn't let go of my hand and his mother finally had to extricate him! And all the while trying to make sure my bag was not available to pickpockets. Sometimes I would look up and find a whole group of people staring at me. Sometimes that is a little unnerving.

I will have Miriam soak my blanket and shirts in soap and boiling water on Monday. Then I will be happy to wear them.

Speaking of Miriam, we had to have a little food "adjustment" this week. She started working here on Friday, August 31. That night she made dinner for me of a tomato sauce with very tough meat in it, and rice. We also had avocado. Then for several successive days we had the rice with tomato sauce. I thought I would let her take the lead but finally by Wednesday I'd had it! I told her I could not eat that dish another day. I'd had no vegetables and I needed some variety!! Miriam could not understand exactly what I wanted so we invited Jackie to be the cultural arbiter. I told her about the veggies I wanted (cabbage, green beans, carrots, green peppers, anything! in season), I decided I did not want her to select any meats (I can live w/out them), that I need some grains besides rice, that I want some dried beans, etc.  Miriam went to the market that afternoon and has since made me some very nice vegetable dishes. She still makes too much rice, but it keeps and I can eventually finish it. I am very glad I have Miriam here every day. We are just still getting to know each other's ways.

I am going to post this w/out the photos. The powere keeps cutting in and out and I am afraid I will lose this if I do not send it. I'll work on the photos later this evening.


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