Friday, April 6, 2012

So, How Was Rwanda?

I have been home for a week now. I had a great stop over in Nairobi to see some friends really quickly and to stay with Mama. It was a great refreshing visit and a reminder of all the great friends I made last summer.

People have been asking me about Rwanda and wanting to know how it was. I haven't had much time to do too much processing because this week has been nothing but work. But it is good to be settling into my new job, a new rhythm, and a new opportunity.

In general the conversation goes something like this (I am growing accustomed to the abbreviated, almost awkward nature of these conversations trying to summarize an experience that is difficult to convey and difficult to understand).

So, how was Rwanda?

Great. A lot of work, but great. Didn't get to know any place too well, but did manage to make a few new friends along the way.

What did you do?

Went to a lot of hospitals to look at their medical equipment. We went to 25 hospitals all over the country. Some the equipment we saw was in use, so we had to go into ORs and wards. We saw a lot of intense things.

--At this point I read the person and either choose the light hearted anecdote or the more serious depressing one --

Light hearted: We actually walked into an OR that was being used for an adult male circumcision, which is a big campaign because it reduces significantly your risk for contracting HIV. Were they under? Nope! They only use local anesthesia so they were wide awake! And then we left the room we saw a bunch of nervous looking young guys waiting for their turn. They looked beyond panicked! You should have seen their faces! The only place in Africa where the people aren't chatting! And they have to walk down the hill after the surgery! Oh boy.

More serious: The neo-natal rooms were the most intense. Two or three babies in one incubator, infant warmers that were broken so the temp didn't adjust and were heating up a baby too much, impossibly small babies - each identified with a piece of masking tape over their bellies. On the last day we saw a bundle covered in clothes in a bassinet that had a piece of masking tape over it. I tried really hard to will it to life with my stare, until I had to turn away.

Oh, that sounds tough/exciting.

Yup, but it is good to be back! And to be employed!

Yeah, I am sure you are glad to be back!

So, have you seen Titanic in 3D yet?

And that, in most cases, is that. No hard feelings all around. I love my experiences abroad and can talk about them all day. You just have to ask.

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