Yesterday, I met my titulaire for the first time (head of the health center). His name is Bernard. Like most first encounters that have occurred thus far, this was no exception. With much anticipation on both sides, we commenced an awkward parsing of sentences, one third in kinyarwanda, one third in English and one third in French, with many pauses in between. We were able to successfully hold a basic conversation and I learned the following about him:
1. He is 58 years old
2. He has a wife and 3 children, all girls
3. He has lived in my village for 20 years
4. He and community members have identified key goals they would like me to help them achieve, mostly related to hygiene and latrine construction as well as my primary goal to work on maternal and child health.
As I head off to my site for a week long visit, I am excited to see my village, to meet the people I’ll be working with, and to see the place that will be my home for the next two years. I anticipate there will be a large learning curve both with regards to the people, culture, language and general cultural integration.
Disclaimer: I have never ridden a motorcycle but I guess I will have to get used to it, as that’s the only mode of transportation connecting me to the main road and many smaller villages throughout the country.
To the north is the Ugandan border, my regional town Musanze, volcanoes, and a fellow volunteer from my cohort just 5 km away.
Unfortunately Rwanda is in an “unfriendly” neighborhood with civil unrest in Burundi to the south and unresolved conflicts to the west in the DRC as well as a whole host of natural disasters, mostly erupting volcanoes and mudslides in the rainy season. Knock on wood all goes well, thankfully nothing catastrophic has happened to any volunteers in Rwanda recently.
I can’t wait to share my adventures as I make my way to my site for the very first time!