Our last night together in Kigali

Tomorrow, our teams will present their findings to respective hospital leadership and by tomorrow afternoon, our team members will be going their separate ways. This trip has been such a blessing in many ways, but especially because of the kindness the people of Kigali have shown us.

Tonight, as a way to thank us for our work here, the City of Kigali hosted a dinner, complete with traditional Rwandan dancing. A few of us got misty eyed thinking about the amazing people here, who we won’t see for some time. They are dedicated, talented and huge-hearted people. The country of Rwanda is in good hands and we look forward to seeing how we can continue supporting them as they develop.

We hope you enjoy some of the photos from tonight, below. You can see more photos on our Flickr album, here: http://bit.ly/16jgoNU

women dancing group dancing men 2  kigali cultural club singers and dancers laurie and mayor mayor presents jim with gift mike and jim presented with gifts  cotton and jamie dinner jess rach dinner

Meeting the president of Rwanda

Today we had the extreme honor of meeting with the president of Rwanda, President Kagame. Dr. O’Neal introduced our Mercy team and Jim Gebhart told him about our work, our goals and our experience so far.

President Kagame said he appreciated our help.

“It is no small thing,” he said. “We appreciate all you’re doing. You’re helping us by seeing where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to be.”

We presented him with a miniature “End of the Trail” statue representing Oklahoma’s role in the Trail of Tears. He was also excited to receive an Oklahoma City Thunder polo shirt from our group. “That’s my team!” he said when he received it.

When we walked outside, media were waiting to hear about our work. Jim interviewed with a group of reporters. We’re excited to see him on Rwandan TV and in newspapers here.

President Kagame was so friendly and it was amazing to have that time with him. Here are a few photos from today’s visit.


M4U team coordinator Reagan shakes President Kagame’s hand after our meeting.


President Kagame was excited to receive an Oklahoma City Thunder polo from our team.


Jim did a great job answering the national media questions about our experiences in Rwanda.


Dr. Mike O’Neal (center), chairman emeritus and Mercy Hospital board chairman, has been instrumental in connecting Mercy with the Rwandan President.


M4U team members Jamie, Robin and Tom wait to meet the President.


M4U team members Cathy and Cindy wait to meet the President.


M4U team members Dr. Goss and Susan Goss wait to meet the President.

VIDEO: Jim at Kibagabaga Hospital

Jim talks about the perfect timing we stumbled upon. The hospitals were already hoping to apply for an accreditation similar to the standards we’re introducing. Hopefully, they can “practice” on us so they can get experience about what it will really be like when an accrediting organization surveys their hospital.

Sunday’s dinner with Rwandan leadership

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