2020 in Rwanda

As Christmas nears, I begin drawing up the list of items that I will carry with me to Rwanda for my next mission. I am leaving on January 24, and this will be my fifth year working with IOWD. I can’t wait to see the sunshine, smell the lightly smoky air, and hear the joyful singing of the women we will treat. While this is not exactly a vacation, it is surely a respite from the neediness, ingratitude, and entitlement that can sour the American healthcare system.

I’ve decided to change up my fundraising a little in the hopes of engaging my family and friends and keeping life interesting. I have made a wish list on Amazon of items that I usually buy and take with me. It’s a mixture of items I need (meal bars for lunch, insect repellant), but mostly it’s items we use for our patients. If you’d like to purchase one or two items from this wish list, I would very much appreciate it.

You might wonder about some of these items–laxatives? paper bags? labels? We bring most of our medications from the United States, including post-operative medications. We use little paper bags to dispense these medications (plastic bags are not allowed in Rwanda), and I print labels with instructions in Kinyarwandan on how and when to take the medication. I emailed with one of the Rwandan medical students who will be leading the mission, and he said, “You are welcome in the country of thousand hills, thousand problems and thousand answers.” Apparently there’s not an easy way to translate “laxative” (for the record, it’s imiti ituma ubasha kwituma).

I also have some fabric on the wish list–one is a super absorbent bamboo fabric and the other is  waterproof fabric. I will take this to a Rwandan seamstress to sew some washable incontinence pads for the women who cannot have surgery.

Every year I try to refine how I work there to make my life, and those around me, a little easier. I can’t participate with the actual surgery, but I can make our clinic room and post-operative rounds smoother by having the supplies we need within reach.

If you prefer to make a monetary donation, that works too. My GoFundMe page is here.