Wednesday, September 26, 2012
No photos today! Just text. I have had a busy week since I last posted. Last Friday I had a group of visitors from Kigali: Jeff Williams, Brandi, his wife, Garet, his son, and Baby, their dog; also Tina Anselmi, a midwife who is on our UIC team (we first met in the airport in Amsterdam) and Lida, an ICU specialist. All these folks work at the same hospital in Kigali. Serving tea to that many people took all my mugs! They were interested in seeing life in Byumba and they were not disappointed. After a tour of the school we took a quick trip to the hospital. Then out to lunch at the restaurant in the Anglican mission. (I only know two places to eat out in Byumba: the Anglican mission and the hotel. Each is about equidistant from the roadway into the school, one to the right and one to the left.) After lunch, Lida and Tina left to take the Stella bus back to Kigali. The Stella buses are infamous for the number of people they can pack into one vehicle and for the two-wheel turns they make as they come down the mountains! I think Tina got a few grey hairs from the ride, but they were in Kigali in no time. It was on a Stella bus that I got so sick earlier.
Jeff and family stayed overnight here. Early in the afternoon Miriam learned that her Grandfather had been involved in an accident and was in Jeff's hospital in Kigali with a broken leg. She asked to leave so she could go be with him. I was on my own with my company! We went to the hotel for a late supper (after naps!) After breakfast we headed back to Kigali where I needed to do some banking before the banks closed at noon (Saturday). Similar to other times at the Access bank, it took me over an hour to withdraw money and for them to begin to try to find the VISA card they had texted me about weeks ago (that it was ready for pick up). I think my blood pressure goes up at least 50 points every time I walk in that place! So many inefficiencies you wouldn't believe. And they never did find my VISA! By the time I left I had spoken at length with the person in charge of the bank and she had promised me she would take care of me personally from now on. We will see!
I managed to do some shopping in Kigali, but never had time to get everything I needed. I've been wanting something like plain saltine crackers, but I'm beginning to think there isn't such a thing. I bought two boxes of what I thought might be they, but they turned out to be sweet. I did get sardines! And I purchased some meat at the German Butchery: one pork chop, one quarter chicken for soup, and some home made sausage. I'm told this is the best place to purchase meet in Kigali. The chicken was great. I put the other things in the freezer. I have not wanted Miriam to purchase meat for me. I'm just not sure where it comes from in Byumba. I also bought Nutella which isn't all that hard to get, but not in Byumba.
Sunday I finally went to church with Jerome who was in Kigali for the weekend. We went to a church with about 700 people in attendance, for a two hour service. The first 40 minutes was all singing with guitars, drums and keyboards and lots of raising of hands. Then there were about 10 minutes of announcements. Finally, a sermon for a little over an hour. I've never been to a U.S. church where people would sit still for that long! Apparently, some services here are 4-5 hours long. Most churches are either charismatic Catholics or protestant Christians with a heavy dose of charismatic flavor. They believe strongly that Jesus is everything (hence the logos on the tops of vehicle windshields: "Jesus Loves", "Jesus has returned" on Jerome's Toyota).
I stayed with Jeff, et. al on Sat. and Sunday nights. We attended a big party on Sat. night at Tina-the-midwife's house. Mostly the attendees were people who had arrived in Rwanda early in August, so it was fun to see everyone who had scattered to their workplaces all over the country. 'Twas fun to see the kids, too. I usually had a better time with them than I did the adults! You know me, however. I get enough of a party in about an hour, then I want to retreat! And I was missing Byumba mightily. I learned over the weekend, that I much prefer my quiet, amoosing, rural home to Kigali. They knew what they were doing when they sent me here.
Jerome and I did not drive up to Byumba until early Monday AM. I felt as if I'd been gone for a week instead of just two days. We had a chance to talk business in the car, however, and we made a plan for some traveling which is my main subject of this blog entry. Please do not be alarmed if I am unable to make any entries, or at least only very brief ones, for approximately the next three weeks. We are going on tour with a car and driver to make site visits at all the hospitals and health centers where Byumba students have clinical placements. There are many, and mostly out in very rural areas. This means I will get to see a lot of Rwanda that I have not seen. My goal will be to observe and interview the students, their clinical instructors, and even some of the staff nurses at the hospital. I am trying to get a handle on what really goes on out there, especially with the instructors. Jerome hasn't even been to all these places since he took over as director here in 2009. Some of the time Rani, our midwife mentor, will go with us. When we are close to Kigali we will beg our friends for a roof, to save some money. There will be times when we will have to stay in some sort of hotels or inns. I haven't heard of any other Advisors like me doing this yet, but Jerome really wanted to and so did I.
What you must be aware of is that I will likely not have access to the internet a lot of the time. Maybe all of the time except in Kigali. I just do not know what to expect. There is a very strong link for us with the U.S. Embassy in Kigali and with the Office of International Affairs at UIC. They will contact Mike and Kate if anything untoward happens. I do not expect any problems at all. I'll be with people I know. I suppose I could send you an itinerary, but the names of the towns would not really mean anything to you. Our first trip tomorrow, 9/27, will just be a day trip. We may also make a day trip on Friday, 9/28. It is next week, (10/1) that we plan to start the real touring for longer distances and over-night stays and that may go on for two weeks. I am calling the Embassy as soon as I finish this to let them know what I will be doing (they request that we let them know about any travels).
Take care, everyone. I should have interesting things to report after this whirlwind tour.