After 20+ hours in the air, and more than two days of travel, most of our team has arrived in Kigali. (Dr. Cotton and Jamie Campbell, RN, were delayed a day by weather and should arrive today.)
This morning, teams left to visit their respective hospitals. Later, we’ll tell you a little about each hospital, and you’ll hear from team members about their first day on site. But, first, let us tell you about the dinner we hosted last night.
We got to meet the leaders from each of the four hospitals we’ll visit, along with the U.S. ambassador to Rwanda, the Rwandan ambassador to the U.S., the mayor of Kigali, the vice mayor of Kigali, the Rwanda minister of health, the state minister of public health and primary care, the U.S. Embassy Center for Disease Control and more. It was quite a night.
Jim Gebhart and Dr. O’Neal spoke about OKC’s relationship with Rwanda, and Mercy’s mission while we’re here. Jim has, from the early days planning this trip, been very transparent about our role. We’re here to learn and to help. He put it best last night.
“We want better health and better life for all Rwandans,” he said. “No one knows Rwandan health better than you all, so we’re here to listen. If you’re willing to let us, we want to work with the hospital leaders and staff to assess where they are and where they want to be.”
Hon. Agnes Binagwaho, the Rwandan Minister of Health, said Rwanda has a great start on health care. Their leadership has transformed health care in Rwanda incredibly, including lowering the fatality rate and establishing a culture of accountability and personal responsibility regarding health. She encouraged our team to continue looking at this as a partnership. As a relationship that benefits both parties.
She inspired our team to see with our hearts.
“Look and see for yourselves what we do.
Don’t listen to what others think about it.
Watch with your hearts, who we are, and you will see we are a country of determined people.”
She also spoke about the reach of our potential partnership and the importance of including rural Rwandans in our health care advances. Kigali is a good place to start, because there is such a population (nearly one million).
“Of course this is for Rwanda, but it’s also for the world,” she said.
Hope you enjoy some of these photos from the night.
As always, you can keep up with our extensive photo collection on our Flickr account, here: http://bit.ly/16jgoNU