Behind the Scenes in Rwanda by Lauren and Mandy, Day 2


And so, the journey continues. It was difficult to wake up after another night of mutziig ikonge (cold beer). I (Lauren) have made it a priority to try every beer manufactured in Rwanda. So far I’ve tried the mutziig (my fave), primus (pronounced Pre-Muuus and according to Rwandan billboards is the “taste of success”), and skol. It’s too bad that I don’t prefer the “taste of success” over the mutziig. Such is life . . .

That being said, it was priority to get a coca-cola light pre-doctor training session. One of my greatest fears was that there would be no source of calorie-free caffeine in the country. Fortunately, this is not the case in Kigali. They’ve got Coca cola light and red bull sugar free! SCORE! What was unexpected was that the Coca-cola light label was in Arabic script . . . ???

الحمية الكوك هو لذيذ جدا

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First order of the day- training of 40 Rwandan doctors in diabetes care. I met Crispin Gishoma of the ARD and Dr. Steve Edelman from UC San Diego in the hotel lobby, and piled into the Mercedes Benz. We arrived at doctors training, and learned that American time is quite different from Rwanda time. We set up the registration table, and had one doctor signed in by the time training was supposed to start. We were told that because of the rain storm the day before, it was especially difficult for the doctors to make it through the clay roads leading into the city. In the meantime, Steve and I searched for something to mount an oversized notepad to. There was no easel. With innovation equivalent to that of MacGyver, we used 2 USB cords to tie the notepad to the window. See depicted:

Success! Steve and Crispin point out the USB cords holding up the notepad.

I peaced out of the doctor training early so that I could make it back in time to go on a training ride with the team. It was awesome. I went for the KOM again, and was cheered on from people lining the streets. The young Rwandan men yelled “avec courage, sister! avec courage, sister!” (with courage, sister!), which gave me a second wind. So, I kept the climbing jersey. This was confirmed by Aleksei Schmidt, he told me that I had enough points.

Post ride, the team went back to the doctor training for a meet and greet:

With Francois and Crispin from the Association Rwandaise des Diabétiques, Adolph from the NCD desk & a woman doctor

Then we were off to the Rwandan Genocide Museum. I’ve studied the Rwandan Genocide in political science and anthropology courses, but never before had it seemed as real as it did at the museum. The Rwandans definitely didn’t censor anything, and we saw some incredibly gruesome pictures, videos and exhibits.  Past the mass burial site was the “Garden of Unity”. Mandy and I took a stroll through the garden, and were asked by an older Rwandan woman asked for money. Since we didn’t have any, Mandy offered her a peanut butter chocolate Clif Bar. She took it graciously, and we hid behind a tree so that we could see if she liked it. She seemed to really enjoy it, and ate every last morsel. Time for Clif Bar to start sponsoring Rwanda.

After the museum, we went to convert our money to Rwandan-Francs, and on a moto-taxi ride to the market. Moto-taxis are super cheap, and the sketchiest/ best way to get around the city.

Mototaxi Ride...Initiate!

At the market, we hustled the natives for cow-bone necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Mandy bought a salad spoon and fork, and a hand sewn basket. She was very persistent, and told the one of the shop-keepers that she was a student, so she needed the student discount. He said that he was a student too, and by the sounds of his English there was no doubt that he was. So, they settled somewhere in the middle. As we were leaving the market, a Rwandan pulled an exotic African bird (after a google image search maybe a crowned crane?) out of his trunk. We offered 5,000 Rwandan Francs, to which he laughed and said “100,000!”. We countered with 10,000, and he came back with 99,999 Rwandan Francs. There was no negotiating with this man for his exotic pet.

The ultimate stare down . . .

We returned on moto-taxis, and I met with Dr. Steve and Phil to go to the best pizzeria in all of Kigali. We met with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control, the US Embassy, USAID, and the management of the Rwandan National Cycling Team. Back in the day (6 months ago), I was a CDC employee,  so I got a lot out of the dinner. We discussed the various NGOs working in the country, and what it’s like to work for the CDC outside of the US. Sounds awesome….you get a body guard! Definitely taking that one into consideration. The night ended on a high note, with a long discussion on non-communicable diseases and strategic partnerships for increasing capacity of healthcare systems to treat such diseases in low-income countries. With stomach full of Rwanda’s best pizza & a few more mutziig ikonge, I headed back to the insecticide treated bed net in preparation for another day of African adventure.

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