|Arriving in Rwanda|
After a 3 yr hiatus, I am getting back on the road (or plane if you will). Last time I was abroad, I was so anxious to one day be able to go back into the world with a little knowledge under my belt. My year abroad taught me so much, but it was frustrating for me to not have the medical experience to be able to give back. I was a little medical student following the Senegalese/ Laotian resident around. I am now returning as an MD. A little baby MD with training wheels still on, but a Doctor nonetheless. I am very excited but also nervous to get back on my travel horse. Although I have traveled a great deal, it is still scary to jump on a plane to a unknown land and culture. Here we go once again!
Africa, I’m back!” Uganda is very beautiful. Senegal is in the middle of the Sahara, so it was nothing but desert and Boaboa trees. Uganda is dead center on the equator. It is about 80 degrees year round, so it is very green, a little humid, and filled with valleys. All the nervous feelings I had as I prepared for my trip disappeared on my way to the hotel. It was like riding a bicycle. I immediately adjusted to the stores on the side of the road, the aluminum roofs, and old concrete or brick. The familiar smell of 1970s cars mixed with fresh air and old world was all around me. I was thinking of how wonderful it was to be able to come back to such a beautiful part of the world, when we arrived to the hotel gates with a security guard holding a machine gun the size of a small child. It was reality reminding me of where I was in the world.
May 6, 2014
May 7, 2014
|A&E = Emergency Department|
|Type and Crossing|
It reminded me that I have to always be paying attention. There is no difference between me and the 13yo boy I say in the A&E the other day, who was hit by a boda boda. He came in with a head injury, cuts, and a very large open wound that involved the entire left side of his abdomen. He was lucky because it didn’t involve the part of the body that keep your organs and intestines inside. He was sutured up and discharged home later in the day.
May 8, 2014
I wake up at 630am-7am every morning and have not been able to go to sleep until about 11pm every night, not much difference than my days back in the US. Well, I little different. I don’t think I will have to take-on strings of days/weeks of getting 5-6hrs of sleep per night.
I have already had two amazing experiences. On Tuesday, I tagged along with a field team who deliveries HIV medications to rural communities. We drove out about 1 hour from Mbrarara into the tiny huts and houses that are in the middle of banana plant fields and miles from anything remotely modern. It was awesome!! I was honored to be the guest into their homes and sit in the one chair or bench of their home. The houses are usually made of clay, using old palm tree leaves as the structure backbone of the clay walls. The roof is usually made tin or dry palm leaves weaved together.
|View of Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital|
The clinic experience was eye-opening. These patients are so far away from any major city, that this clinic is all they have for medical assistance. There is no doctor. There is a chief medical officer, who was trained for 3 years after high school and is responsible for every patient, and a team of nurses. The clinic has a catchment area of about 40, 000 people, so it is no small task. He is able to work with limited medications to treat diseases that would require entire medical teams in the west. It was very humbling.
May 11, 2014
This first week was all about getting to know my environment, the people, the culture. I spent months trying to plan out my project, but it is so different to actually arrive and to start doing it. The beginning stages of organizing the first aid course have started. I have a specific plan of action. The program coordinator, Sarah, has been here for about 2 years so she knows the system very well. I had the curriculum and overall concept of the course planned out in my mind, but she is helping me adjust it to the setting in which I am working. Next week will be very busy. We are implementing the course in 8 days. It is not a lot of time to implement a course that I have never executed before in a setting that I am just getting familiar with. Yet, I know that we will get it done. We are going to start off small. We are planning to have only 40 participants this time around. My hope is that this course will grow and develop to become a city-wide event.