Reporter: Lennard Lee
Contact at destination: Dr Protais Munyarugamba, firstname.lastname@example.org
Year of visit: 2008
Institution: Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (http://www.chk.org.rw)
Department: Paediatrics/General Medicine
Work / Study undertaken; Elective placement studying all aspects of paediatrics and general medicine. Time was spent in theatres, wards, in clinics and in team meetings.
Description of the service and department: The hospital is the only tertiary referral hospital in country and receives the more difficult cases from all regions of Rwanda.
Description of the destination:Rwanda is a very interesting part of Africa. People are all very friendly and eager to help and the city is surprisingly clean. However, despite this, the country is still very poor and there is a low quality of life for most residents there. The country is still recovering from the Genocide in 1994 and you can still see hundreds of people on the street with machete wounds.
Were the local people friendly? Everyone was really friendly and helpful. French is the predominant foreign language, however, many doctors can speak English The staff at the hospital were very welcoming and supportive.
Did you feel safe and if not why not? Rwanda has a reputation as one of the safest capitals in East Africa. However, at night, very little happens and the streets are very empty. Taking usual precautions late at night is highly recommended.
What did you do in your spare time? Rwanda is a very small country, and so during weekends there is a lot of scope for travelling. In Kigali, the genocide memorial is a must see as are the markets. Within a days travelling from Kigali is the Parc National Des Volcans where you can visit the Gorillas in their natural habitat or the other national parks.
Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? See the Gorillas. It is an extremely unique and special opportunity. The gorillas are large and graceful and they come close enough to touch. It is a very personal and deeply moving experience and well worth the time spent.
What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like? We went during April. Unfortunately we were entering the monsoon season and so we had to be equipped with an umbrella. If possible, avoid the monsoon season.
What was your accommodation like? Accommodation was organised by ourselves. We recommend staying at Eglise De St Famile just down by the main roundabout. It is a small room with two beds and a table. Slightly infested with mosquitoes and 20 minutes walk from the hospital, however, unlike other hostels there is running water and it is clean.
Was it provided? No
If not who arranged it? Myself
How much did it cost? 10 euros a night.
Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, I would recommend it.
Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way? During your time in the hospital, you see a lot of rare paediatric cases. I saw Kwashiorkor and Marasmus as well as the very common cases of military TB. You also see a lot of tropical diseases and if you wanted to learn clinical skills there is also a lot of opportunity to do so.
Has it improved your French? Yes! After several ward rounds and clinical meetings all in French, you are forced to re-remember your GCSE French. When all the locals in the shops, markets and streets only speak French, you get used to thinking in French.
How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? It has increased my knowledge of the influence that France had in East Africa. It is a testament to French culture that the French language is still the main foreign language in Rwanda.
If you went back would you do anything differently? Improve my medical French before I got there
How did you get there? Kenya air via Nairobi
Is there any other information that you think may be useful? There are no medical students there so bring your own textbooks. If you are going to see the Gorillas, get a letter from the director of the hospital to say you are working at the hospital to get a 50% discount.