Today, although Saturday, I was able to meet up with some of the OB/GYN department. I was invited to participate on a healthcare forum discussing family planning with secondary school children at a boarding school called Kagarama. VERY IMPORTANT. The rate of unintended pregnancies is very high in Rwanda and family planning is probably one of the most important things an OB/GYN will do, that is even more true in a low resource setting like Rwanda. This program is the result of a collaboration with the University of Michigan, and for those not in the medical field, or even if you are and just aren’t familiar- family planning is a sub facet of obstetrics and gynecology dealing primarily with birth control, termination of pregnancies, etc. Its about providing the special and important art of helping women have children only when they are ready. Secondary schools are a great place to begin educating. Besides the fact that the team waited 1.5 hours for me to find my way to Kagarama (my taxi driver got lost!!!) I was integrated completely into the panel which was awesome.
Ok- a lot of introductions but first and foremost I met Diomede and Magnifique. Two people I have had email correspondence with over the past few weeks but haven’t officially met. They’re phenomenal! Magnifique is a second year OB/GYN resident at CHUK and I guess in charge of rotating providers. I asked him what that means and how he got the task and he said his job is to “make sure you are happy and safe.” Sounds exhausting. But apparently it was a highly sought after and competitive position. But whenever he says something I don’t agree with, I tell him I don’t feel happy or safe. He’s sensational. After getting out my 2 hour taxi ride he gave me the biggest hug and welcomed me to Rwanda. He seems so genuine and is always smiling. I’m a fan. Next is Diomede. He’s the chair of the OB/GYN department and comparably as awesome. He explained everything that was happening and translated since they were alternating between Swahili, French, English , and Kinyarwanda. My head was spinning. But he sat next to me on the panel and translated all the good stuff. One of the Gyn Onc attendings who works here but trained at yale even reached out and sent me an email welcoming me and offering to come to the house. We took a selfie and sent it to her! The department so far seems amazing, they don’t have an MFM but if they keep this up they might get one in the next few years 😉. Magnifique and I were talking about goals and I spoke about MFM and the upcoming match and he explained that he’s choosing between urogyn and family planning. He also very much wants to do a rotation in the US. I have to look into this for him when I get back– I feel like it’s only fair, I came for a month, why can’t he?! I’m sure it’s more difficult than that but here’s to wishful thinking. He explained that he’s applied for a visa several times but is declined each time. Ugh so frustrating. He’s got big dreams though and wants to go to Stanford or The Brigham for fellowship. I hope he makes it! Apparently there are not many sub specialists here and he wants to get advanced training to return to his country. Thus gyn onc ( a provider who focuses on gynecological cancers) is a rare gem. I’m happy she is providing care here.
Next I met the other panel members- Sandrina, Doreen, Jared, and Gilbert. They’re a group of various health care professionals. A nurse, midwifery student, and medical student. Jared started off the panel and got these 10-18 year olds really fired up about the talk– I was so impressed. They were first timid and quiet and then after only a few minutes, they were chanting, singing, and dancing! I took videos that ill post separately on FB, but it was so wonderful to watch. Then we each had to introduce ourselves- Diomede gave my introduction. I was sure I’d get boos, these kids were a tough crowd! When he introduced me as a doctor from the U.S, I was obviously surprised to hear “oooohs” and “ahhhhhs”. I stood and waved. Next each panel member went up and spoke to the students, telling them anecdotes, reminding them of what they have to lose, and most of all educating them on safe sex. A good number of the kids raised their hands and said they want to be doctors too!
They invited me to lunch but my driver- Aimable, was already here and waiting! I went home to take a 4 hr nap instead, I’m still so tired!!!!
On the way home, I saw a corner store selling drinks. So once I got settled I asked Jean (French speaking security guard) to walk with me. So I still haven’t changed my currency but my money should be good everywhere! Well not here, the store owner was nice enough to give me the beer with only my word that I would bring back RWF (rawandan money). This place is special. I gotta get money exchanged ASAP. I haven’t tried the beer yet but it’s a 40 of mutzig, highly recommended by Jean. I will let you all know how it is.