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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Monday, 12 Sep 2011

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

MapMonday, September 12th, 2011

Today we went out to Muhanga to visit some of the recipients of our Rwanda crate. From the bus stop near St Famille, you can travel to just about any where in the country. Itís a busy, chaotic place but soon after boarding the small bus, we were out of the city and travelling through the beautiful mountains. Itís out here that you can really see how every inch of the country is being used. The steep mountains are terraced and planted and banana trees surround the mud brick houses. Everything is so green and beautiful.

Our first stop was the hospital where many of our medical donations were given. We werenít able to see everything because it was business as usual for the hospital staff and patients.

We were able to go into the emergency ward where all of the hospital beds were being used. They looked so big compared to the beds they normally use. The staff said were very happy to have them and remarked on how good the mattresses were. Looking at the others, we could see why he commented.

Next we visited the human resource department to drop off the toys we had brought for the kids in the pediatric ward. Last year when we visited, we met children who had been hospitalized up to a year. They were laying in beds with nothing to play with so we made a mental note to bring something to leave on this trip. After coming out of this office, we took out our Magic Walmart Bubble Wand and entertained the children that were nearby.

We were also taken to the NICU where our donated oxygen saturation machine was being used by a very small premature baby. The only equipment in this room was what was being used for this particular baby, two other incubators, a cabinet with supplies, two infant bassinettes (one with another baby) and a table. It doesnít seem like much when this district hospital serves people from other districts additionally.

We visited the maternity ward where I gave the blanket made by Carol (my dadís wife) to a new mom. We also had bottles and formula which we handed out to the other moms at the suggestion of the hospital staff. In the couple of minutes it took us to pass it out to the ďfourĒ other babies that were in the room, word got around and other momís began to show up. We had to ask the staff to tell them that we didnít have enough for everyone. Of course, we always wish we had more to give.

We visited the Nursing and Midwifery Institute where many of our medical and textbooks went, along with all of the binders donated by Paulette Chamberlain. It was a very organized library and I even recognized a dictionary set from my house! We were told that our books came at just the right time as the government had mandated two years ago that English textbooks were to be used in schools and there were none around at that time.

Originally we were going to stay in Muhanga but decided to go back into the city and then travel back out in the morning. . When we got back to Kigali we thought that we still had plenty of time to go to my favourite market. We needed to purchase baskets and gifts for fundraising back home.

We hopped on some motorbikes and went weaving in and out of the traffic up to another part of the city. I mistakenly got us dropped off too soon so we had to walk the rest of the way. It was getting dark and we were in a very crowded part of the city but everyone we asked told us we were almost there. We finally got found it and managed to a bit of shopping.

This market is the size of a Costco, open at the sides and front but surrounded by a fence. When you go inside and down the dark, narrow isles, each merchant has their wares stacked to the ceiling. You can buy anything here, food, dishes, hardware, baskets, or jewellery. There is a row of treadle sewing machines near the fabric and people are making clothes. There is an area where women are getting their hair braided and another where young men are dancing to Rhagae. Itís like a whole city under one roof! I just love the atmosphere here!!!

We decided to cab it back since biking during the day is dangerous, but at night suicidal. (Remember Rylan when your leg hit a car last year?)