Rukundo, head maintenance man at the mission station, got married Saturday. To keep the costs down, he and his younger brother had a double wedding. My favorite moment was when all the gifts were presented, one couple was given a sheep. It was put in a corner on the platform behind where the bride and groom stood. At one point the sheep decided to make a run for it. He dashed across the back of the stage behind the bride and groom, headed for the door. But one of the groomsmen caught him and the sheep was taken outside.
Back when I was a new nurse, age 22, and just starting in the hospital, I spent one and a half months working in the neurological/orthopedic unit. Then for the next two and a half years, I’d be assigned there on occasion. That was enough for me! We didn’t see the severe motorcycle accident patients as they were flown to other hospitals, but we did have some head injuries and broken bones. I decided then and there I’d not ride a motorcycle.
Well, today I rode on one! It happened because I had to get to Kigali for a government training, preparing all hospitals for accreditation just like American hospitals have to be accredited and inspected every three years. Two other hospital employees and I took the bus to Kigali. Part way there a small landslide had blocked half the road. But that didn’t mean all traffic was stopped. We got off the bus, walked around the slide, and rode the rest of the way on another bus waiting for us. When we got to town, we had to get from the bus stop to the class. Well, the cheapest way was a motorcycle taxi. So off we went. I held on real tight, told myself to be calm, and was glad when we arrived! That was enough excitement for one day, and it was only 8:00 a.m.
It’s amazing how little things that are new and different in another country can wear one out so quickly. When I first moved to Rwanda, every afternoon I’d have a headache from all the newness: language, job, culture, people, etc. It was such a relief when one day, I realized I hardly ever had those headaches anymore. Today the motorcycle ride didn’t give me a headache, and I’ve been here long enough that I usually don’t have an experience that’s so new that I notice it much. But I guess there’s always another adventure just waiting around the corner...hopefully, not on a motorcycle!
I arrived in Kigali Friday afternoon and promptly hit the stores! Well, that was after I picked up my Rwandan nursing license. All nurses in Rwanda had to re-register, so my license was finally printed and ready. When I walked into one of the big downtown stores, a small scale Target or Walmart...minus the good prices, I suddenly forgot what I was supposed to do. I had to stop and think: get shopping cart, find shopping list, go buy items on list. ☺
Hmm, if I’m like this in the big city of Kigali, what will I be like when I visit home for two weeks in June? When I first arrived in the USA in 2011, I couldn’t remember how to use the credit card machine at the checkout counter. The teller thought me peculiar because I didn’t have an accent, didn’t appear to be visiting the country, and yet had to ask how to use the machine.
I bought a white lab coat for special occasions, and yesterday I wore it for the first time. The Kibogora University nursing school brought its students to us for a practical skills test before the students start their clinical experience in the hospital next week. Students had to demonstrate taking vital signs, making a bed, giving a bed bath, changing a dressing, moving a patient safely, giving an enema, and changing the bandage on the stump of an amputee. That was my station.
I watched 37 students bandage an arm stump. At least I think it was 37; I lost track after a while. Some were so nervous they shook the whole time; others were confident. And, surprisingly, some of the nervous ones did an excellent job while some of the more confident ones were lacking.
It was an interesting day broken into 3, 5 and 7 minute intervals. Seven minutes for the student to perform the task, three minutes to take a breather before the next task, and 5 minutes before a new group of students arrived. Unlike the USA, to keep the students from cheating, they were locked in a classroom at 8:00 a.m., allowing seven at a time to perform the tasks. When done, they were locked in a different room. When the morning students finished, they were let out and could go home. The whole process was then repeated for the afternoon group. Not what we’re used to in the USA, but it worked. ☺
The head of our laboratory was expecting his first baby. She made her parents be patient when she arrived two weeks late, but perfectly healthy! Since not everyone has a camera here, the father hired a local photographer to take pictures of the baby’s birth. I don’t know if the photographer realized what he was getting into when he found himself in the operating room in a gown, hat, and mask, waiting for the C-section!!! I made sure he didn’t watch when they cut the incision; I didn’t want to have to pick the photographer up off the floor!! ☺ He did fine and got some great pictures, which the proud papa carried around in his pocket to show everyone. Congratulations, JMV and Clotilde, on the arrival of your daughter!!
A visiting doctor left us a lot of baby clothes to be used in the NICU. All the babies looked so cute in their clothes. Just don’t let the ruffles or baseballs make you decide which gender the baby is. Clothes are clothes here. It doesn’t matter what they wear as long as they’re warm!!
Sometimes my work days are too varied and take me away from what I want to work on. But yesterday I enjoyed the variety. After working in the NICU in the morning, I returned to the mission station and checked on the remodel project. The new windowsills being installed weren’t level, so I made sure they got fixed. After lunch I examined the pile of lumber being delivered, picking out the best wood to put in storage for my dad’s next project. It was a nice break from the NICU—to get out the level and tape measure and choose wood that didn’t have too many knots and no cracks. ☺ The delivery man was impressed by my choices; he said I picked all the best pieces. Good! My plan exactly! ☺
The team from Alabama left today. I love making friends with new people who come to serve at Kibogora Hospital, but saying goodbye when they leave is not easy. Six of the team worked closely with my NICU nurses. As they said goodbye, I watched my nurses experience what I do on a regular basis. They agreed with me; it’s sad to see new friends leave.
This week is the 19th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. On Sunday I joined in the march—probably a thousand people walking in silence side by side. We walked the dirt road, skirted mud puddles reaching from one side of the road to the other, filed silently into the packed dirt school yard, filling the benches or sitting on the hillside. The yard quickly changed from a barren brown to a colorful collage as umbrellas popped up to protect people from the blazing sun. The event featured singing, speeches, prayers, and the president’s talk via radio.
But I have to say, my favorite moment of the day took just one minute. At noon exactly, as the whole nation stood in silence to remember those who’d died, during that moment a toddler ran by giggling and a baby cried. Those children don’t have the memories their parents do. And I pray they’ll never have to live through what their parents did. Time is passing, and healing is taking place.