Day 7: Headed to Volcanoes National Park

I had a short day at the hospital today as I spent the afternoon riding from Kigali to Musanze, in northern Rwanda. This is the home of Volcanoes National Park, where we will go gorilla trekking tomorrow. The ride here was beautiful, but I’ll save that story for tomorrow. 

I spent the morning doing rounds at the hospital and consenting patients for surgery on Monday. The team takes Sunday off as a very well deserved day of rest. I carried my big camera around again today, and took lots of photos of moms and babies (see–>). All of the patients seem to be recovering well. 

I’m not sure I have mentioned before how stoic these women are. Oral narcotics are not available here, and while we do have a small supply that people have brought from the US, most women take only acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (Advil). Can you imagine having surgery on your lady bits with no narcotics? Nope, me either. Even women who have abdominal incisions seem to tolerate their pain without complaint. 

As I was rounding today, I asked several patients if there were women in their home village that they would encourage to come for our services. Many women said yes while some said they didn’t want to talk about it once home. We also told the large group of women in the tent that they should not have sex for at least 3 months. One woman responded that her husband would leave her and the whole group laughed. 

There is such a sisterhood among these women. This is the place where it’s normal to have leakage and to enjoy a break from the physical labor of usual life. Two women asked me to take their photo together, and they hugged each other tight (see –>). They were both patients, and probably didn’t know the other before they arrived. Later in the morning, a patient came and told me that someone in the tent had a leaky catheter; again, not a friend, just a fellow patient. When we do rounds, the beds are packed so tightly together that everyone around them listens.

Only one more half day at the hospital left before I leave on Monday night. Let me know if you have questions and I’ll answer them here. There’s just so much to see and feel and smell here that it’s hard to give a complete picture. I hope my writing has given you a small sense of what I have experienced.

Some of you have asked about donating to some of the patients I have described. My suggestion would be to donate to the IOWD, which a the organization that runs this mission. They have a beautiful new website, so check it out even if you cannot donate. Tell Barbara I sent you.