I’ve recently moved from Nairobi, Kenya, to Lusaka, Zambia. After a few short weeks of settling in, it felt too soon to hit the road again, but I had many reasons to go to Rwanda. I’ve been to Rwanda so many times over the past four years; it’s a country that never ceases to amaze me. It was a wonderful week.
First was an overnight stop in Nairobi and a visit to one of my favorite cafés – Java House Coffee. It was strange to be passing back through Nairobi on the 12-month anniversary of the Westgate terrorist attack. My home in Kenya was less that 1 kilometer from Westgate. I lost a few friends in that attack, and one of my close friends survived it. I was grateful to be able to be with her at Java as they held a moment of silence in memory of the lives lost that day one year earlier.
CURE colleague Phil Hudson and I spent the first two days in Rwanda in the office in Kigali, meeting and training Bernard Uzabakiriho, our new Counseling Coordinator. It was also time for some great discussion across a huge range of issues with our Program Manager, Esperance Uwizeye.
There are always so many things going on in each program – in Rwanda, we’ve recently registered as an NGO, and our relationship with the Ministry of Health is becoming stronger with each passing day. It’s our last month in this office in Kigali, as we have outgrown it. We’ve been blessed to find a lovely, professional space which will allow us to not only have office space but room for some small training workshops as well.
On Day 3 we headed off towards the western border, a region which is mountainous and stunning. There’s always so much to see along the way on these road trips; Africa is such a vibrant continent.
Finally we arrived at our first destination – the CURE Clubfoot clinic at Ruhengeri Government Hospital. In every clubfoot clinic, there will always be lots of mothers and babies — mothers outside waiting patiently, mothers attending for the first time who look scared and heartbroken. They have often been shunned from their communities and families due to the belief that their children are cursed or demon-possessed.
We also see mothers who’ve been coming with their children for awhile, who’ve been loved and cared for and had their hope restored. We see moms who are so thankful and want to hug and kiss any visitors… which is always an overwhelming but fun part of my job!
And of course, another fun part is spending time with all the children, especially when they’re so happy to be standing up!
There was training and mentoring to be done, both for the clinical treatment and the parent counseling work. Esperance and I had a chance to spend time together; we constantly strive to improve our clinical supervision and mentoring approaches. Bernard had a chance to get a feel for what it’s like to be at the forefront of parent counseling. He did a fantastic job and loved it!
We had a chance to encourage the clinic parent counselor (who is doing well!) to make sure parents understand all parts of the treatment process. Below he’s making sure they understand how to get the braces on properly.
And finally, on Day 5, we ended up in Gisenyi, a Rwandese town on the border with DRC. Unfortunately, I had difficulties getting my DRC entry visa, so our DRC team graciously traveled across the border to spend the day with us at one of the locals hotels. Pascal, Christian, Gaston, Symplice, Benjamin, and I are pictured below.
Our day together was focused on strategic and operational planning as well as some training. It was such an encouraging and productive day. I’m excited about this program.
My final day passing back through Nairobi again was a chance to spend time working with Christine Kalondu, our Regional Finance and Compliance Officer. I’m ever thankful for Christine’s dedication and talents and the fact that she thrives on spreadsheets!
I flew back to my new home in Lusaka tired after an intense several days but so thankful to be part of this amazing program with the chance to work with incredibly dedicated and passionate people all over the continent.