Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Well, 2012 is quickly drawing to a close for this Rwandan. I still haven't seen a single Christmas decoration in Byumba. Even when I went to Kigali a couple of days ago, I saw only a few.

For the past two weeks I have been nursing a cold. I slept a lot of the first week; this past week I worked while I hacked away and still have a runny nose. I don't remember having a cold that lasted this long. I still tire easily.

Thursday afternoon Rani (my midwife friend from next door) and I were told that we would be attending a staff retreat on Friday and Saturday. This is often the way things happen here. You get very little notice! It seemed mostly to be to work on issues of the faculty. There was a large dose of religion involved, as well: a couple of sermons, singing of some kind of religious nature (all in Kinyarwanda), etc. The retreat was held at a lovely center belonging to the Anglican church (Anglicans have a lot going on in Rwanda). We each had our own room (this was about 30 people) and the food service was very nice. It was near a very large lake on a side road from our usual road to Kigali. It was very peaceful and the stars were beautiful Friday night. I still cannot see the constellations in the southern sky. Maybe I should make that a task for the last half of my year here. I certainly had sympathy for some of the concerns of the faculty. Having recently taught courses here, I have experienced some of the issues they discussed. I will be very interested to see how things get resolved.

I have no photos tonight, Friends. Text only!

Tomorrow and Tuesday we are holding a Workshop for our senior Midwifery students. It is a course called Helping Baby Breathe. The students are carefully trained in how to promote breathing in a newborn baby. That may sound pretty elementary, but in resource-poor countries where they do not have infant resuscitation equipment at hand, it is very important that health workers know the basic skills necessary to promote breathing without any fancy equipment.

I will just be a "helper" in the above operation. Then on Tuesday I will leave to join some other USA. Rwanda workers on a little jaunt. We will go to Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. This will be my first trip outside Rwanda since my arrival here. The park is on the far west side of Uganda. We will see lots of animals (I hope to have photos next time on the blog) and I don't know what else is on tap. I think I will enjoy the break and seeing a different country. We will be much closer to the equator there, so I suppose we will be much warmer.

And here is my story of the week. Anthere is the Assistant to the Principal and sits right in the office outside mine. He has been very patient with me as he explained many of the workings of the school, Rwandan culture, etc. One day recently I decided to try Skyping one of my students at UIC. I had a good internet connecting and I was talking to her at 5:30AM her time and about 1:30PM in Rwanda. Anthere came back from lunch and heard me talking to someone so he was curious. He walked right into my office and saw I was talking to someone electronically. He began speaking to Lois in French, getting more and more excited every minute. Finally he waved at Lois and she waved back. I think it was the waving that did it. He began speaking very excitedly about how he had been talking to my friend in the U.S. and they both waved at each other!! Immediately, Anthere asked if I could set him up with Skype. I loaded it onto his computer, but he does not have a camera so can only speak with someone. We still need some help to make sure it works consistently, and I would love to get a camera for his computer. Things like that are prohibitively expensive here. But just think about what an awakening that was for Anthere, to wave at someone in the U.S. with the person waving back.

I am pretty tired, so will sign off and go to bed. I keep thinking that if I get plenty of sleep my cold will go away, but so far, no such luck!

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