Rwanda


Report 1

Reporter: Roshan Ramasamy

Contact at destination: Emmanuel Ntegamaherezo, academic secretary of College of Medicine, University of Rwanda. emmanto@ymail.com

Year of visit: 2015

Country: Rwanda

Region: Kigali

Institution: Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali

Department: Paediatrics

Work / Study undertaken; medical elective in paediatrics, rotating through the different subspecialties at CHUK, and taking part in medical student teaching.

Description of the service and department: As a national referral centre, CHUK takes some fascinating and complicated cases from all across Rwanda, including some tropical diseases or really advanced presentations that would never be seen in the UK.

Description of the destination: Rwanda is also an incredible country to travel in, with loads of amazingly beautiful locations packed into a relatively small country, meaning that there were some great weekend trips just a bus ride away. Although a developing country, it can be expensive, as tourist facilities are generally aimed at rich UN workers and “expats” rather than backpackers. Applying as a student for a residency permit gives big discounts on some tourist activities like gorilla trekking, although does involve a lot of paperwork.

Were the local people friendly? Yes! Although less extraverted than other East African countries I’d been in, Rwandan’s were incredibly warm and welcoming. There’s an amazing sense of community too – for example, on every Saturday at the end of the month, everyone (including the president) takes part in ‘umuganda’, where they do acts of community service such as cleaning the streets.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? The safest developing country I’ve travelled in. There’s a very heavy police presence around Kigali, but officers appear to be professional and friendly. There is a strong emphasis on tackling corruption and bribery, and strong rule of law. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be careful in any big city, but I felt safer walking around at night in Kigali than in my home town of London.

What did you do in your spare time?
In Kigali, so many restaraunts, bars and clubs. There’s busy markets and chilled out coffee shops, and some interesting memorials relating to the genocide in 1994. The country is small but with so many beautiful locations, so there’s plenty of places to visit within a few hours bus ride of Kigali. Parc National de Volcans is a stunning location where you can track gorillas, although it’s really expensive ($750, although $375 as a student resident). Lake Kivu, an inland sea on Rwanda’s Western border, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, dotted with chilled out little fishing towns by the beach. There’s also chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe rainforest, and the historic towns of Huye and Nyanza, plus plenty more

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? While most people go for gorilla tracking, I think even just hiking in the park is incredibly rewarding, and I actually enjoyed the scenery there easily as much as the gorillas. Lake Kivu is amazing, and you can spend two or three days cycling along its coast through little villages and towns, which was incredible.

What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like? I went during April, which was the rainy season. It rained for a few hours most days, usually in the morning while I was in the hospital, but for the rest of the day it was sunny, warm with beautiful skies. It was also Genocide Memorial Week during my stay (the week starting April 7th), which was a very quiet period in Kigali.

What was your accommodation like? The hospital recommends staying at Grace Apartments, for $200/month a pretty basic room with ensuite toilet and shower, just 10 minutes walk from the hospital and in a really bustling neighbourhood with plenty of places to eat out. Because I was travelling to Rwanda alone, I stayed in Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel, which made it easier to meet people, and they can arrange a discount of 10% for stays of at least 30 days.

Was it provided? No

If not who arranged it? Myself.

How much did it cost? $16/night at Discover Rwanda Hostel for a room in an 6-8 bed dorm, including breakfast, without the 10% discount

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, so much!

Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way? Yes! In terms of learning opportunities, CHUK has a large paediatrics department, and during my stay I was free to rotate around the specialist wards, which were cardiology, malnutrition, chronic disease, oncology, surgery, ICU, NICU and A&E. As a national referral centre, CHUK takes some fascinating and complicated cases from all across Rwanda, including some tropical diseases or really advanced presentations that would never be seen in the UK. I particularly enjoyed my stay on the cardiology ward, which was dominated by children with congenital heart disease, rheumatic heart diseases and infective endocarditis, and was great for practicing my auscultation.
The paediatrics department also runs teaching for medical students from the University of Rwanda, supported by both Rwandan doctors and American paediatricians who work in a partnership programme with the Rwandan Ministry of Health. There were therefore daily lectures for the medical students in paediatrics, as well as journal clubs and postgraduate teaching for the resident doctors, all of which I was welcome to attend and were very useful. Because CHUK is part of a medical school, staff were also very used to having medical students, and were happy to involve me and teach me.

Has it improved your French? Yes, but less so than in a truly francophone country.

Rwanda is linguistically complicated. Everyone speaks Kinyarwanda as a first language, and most people speak a bit of Swahili as well. In Kigali and other cities, people speak a third language – since the national language was changed to English in 2006, for young children this is now English, while people aged 30 and over prefer French, and those in their 20s are often bilingual. Add to this that the many Congolese immigrants in Kigali much prefer French and Kiswahili, often mixing these together within sentences. You end up having some very interesting conversations, cycling between different languages to find a common ground.

English was the preferred language in the hospital, but I still did have plenty of chance to practice my French in the hospital – nurses generally preferred French, as did specific consultants. Specifically, Dr Mzungu on Neonatology and Professor Muhanga on Chronic Disease ward, run ward rounds and teaching in French. While these were difficult to take part in at first, I found that my confidence quickly improved, and I really valued being able to take part in their ward rounds. Having in depth discussions about the causes of apnea with Dr Mzungu in French was a new, challenging and rewarding experience.

Outside the hospital, I also generally I spoke more in English than in French, but had at least one conversation in French each day, sometimes long discussions about politics or life in Rwanda.

Rwanda would therefore be better for students who want the opportunity to practice their French, but aren’t at a level where they’d be confident being totally immersed in a French setting, and could fall back on their English when they needed.

As a final point, Rwanda’s language situation is still changing year to year, with a gradual shift towards English, and in five or ten years the experience of students there may be very different.

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture?
Rwanda has it’s own very distinctive and fascinating culture, and it was wonderful having the chance to learn about its very ancient history, as well as getting to know modern Rwanda.

Learning about Rwanda’s history was a particularly bleak and tragic lesson in how European powers have influenced the world in the last 100 years. Belgium, as an occupying power, had profound influences on Rwandan society, both positive and negative, in the period that preceded it’s ethnic conflict. The whole international community is strongly to blame for the utter failure to act during this time. France in particular was a strong supporter of Rwanda’s government in the decades leading to the genocide, and its actions in Rwanda during the 100 days that saw the deaths of nearly a million people remain deeply controversial.

Visiting Rwanda’s various genocide memorials was a painful and emotional experience, and provoked a lot of soul searching about my own country’s behavior on the international stage, as well as deeper criticism of the influence of both France and Belgium in both the history and the modern societies of Francophone countries.

If you went back would you do anything differently? I’d spend more of my time on Neonatology, which I only did in the last week of my attachment. It was a fascinating specialty that I hadn’t experienced before, had a consultant who was really keen to teach, and was a great opportunity to practice French.

How did you get there? Flew with Air Kenya via Nairobi

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? Register for a residency permit in Rwanda as a student to get massive discounts off tourist activities!

Report 2

 

Reporter: George Melling, 5th year medical student, Peninsula Medical School.

Contact at destination: Dr Musafiri Sanctus, musanct@yahoo.fr

Year of visit: 2011

Country: Rwanda

Region: Butare (also known as Huye)

Institution: Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare (http://www.chub.org.rw)

Department: Internal Medicine

Work / Study undertaken;

Elective placement in internal medicine. Time was spent in morning meetings summarising previous day’s medical admissions, then ward round with a medical student or resident. If there were difficult patients we could ask a consultant to review them. I also spent time in endoscopy and bronchoscopy. There was quite good teaching as it is a university teaching hospital, with at least weekly lectures.

Description of the service and department: The department is the internal medicine department for the south of Rwanda. It receives referrals from district hospitals. I mostly worked on the male ward and saw cases of HIV and TB as well as other diseases such as stroke, cancer, infectious diseases and many others.

Description of the destination: Rwanda is a beautiful country that is green and pleasant most of the year round. Kigali is the cleanest African city I’ve seen and in some ways it appears quite developed when you drive in from the airport (seeing two lane highways and skyscrapers). However working in the hospital reminds you how poor the people are, and people will wait days or weeks to gather together 30p for a chest x-ray. Butare is a university town and so has a great student atmosphere. It is not very big but has most things you could need: running water & electricity, a supermarket, a lovely outdoor pool, the best ice cream in Rwanda, a campus with a large arboretum with resident monkey which is perfect for running or walking in, bars and restaurants.

Were the local people friendly? Extremely so. People are very often keen to help tell you the right prices for buses, taxis or moto-taxis so you can haggle to the sensible price.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? I felt very safe in Rwanda at all times. At night in Kigali I took moto-taxis when travelling alone, and in Butare I walked around in a group after bars closed and felt safe. There were always security men and police or army on the streets.

What did you do in your spare time? I finished quite early most days so had time for running in the university grounds which are beautiful and you can spot the monkeys sometimes. Rwanda is very small so it is easy to travel around. I visited two spots on Lake Kivu, and preferred Kibuye’s more relaxed atmosphere to Gisenyi’s upmarket beach hotels. I went to Akagera in a day from Kigali with some friends which was a nice day out but doesn’t compare to the Masai Mara/Serengheti experience in terms of animal density. The Nyungwe forest was stunning for trekking in primary rainforest and we saw some monkeys. We also visited a coffee plantation near Butare. There are a number of genocide memorials which I visited with varying degrees of emotional impact. The museum in Kigali is the most sterile but informative, others have bones or corpses on display. Most towns have some kind of memorial. I was lucky to meet other students working in the hospital, either on elective or exchange through the IFMSA so we could travel a lot together. Also met local medical students who were happy to show us good drinking holes and invite us to house parties.

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? I would echo the thoughts of the other student who went to Rwanda, and say go to see the Gorillas. An absolutely unrivalled experience. Although they seem to have really tightened up the resident pricing, and you need to show your visa and resident permit to get the discount. Still worth it if you can.

What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like? I went mid August to early October. The weather was mostly low 20s (centigrade) and sunny but did get a bit hotter. By the end of my trip it was just beginning to rain more frequently. Evenings could get chilly enough to need a jumper. In the mountains near the gorillas it was very cold.

What was your accommodation like? I turned up with no accommodation and they are very used to housing people in university halls nearby. A medical student from the ward showed me on my first day. It was basic but safe, cheap, clean and comfortable. A single bed, desk and lockable wardrobe in a lockable room on a corridor. The floors were concrete and washed daily. There was no hot water and occasionally no running water at all. They could usually fetch a bucket to wash with. It is called Sedes Sapentiae (excuse my latin) but everyone only knows it as the catholic sisters’ place. It has a canteen and filtered water which I drank.

Was it provided? No

If not who arranged it? Myself, with help from Dr. Sanctus who asked a med student to help me.

How much did it cost? Just over £40/month (40 000 RFr)

Did you enjoy your visit? Very much so

Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way? Yes. I was given the opportunity to be involved in the management of some of the patients over time. There was some teaching as it is a university hospital. I didn’t really do any practical skills but felt I learnt enough clinical medicine, examination skills, diagnosis and management without too many tests.

Has it improved your French? Yes a bit. English is now the official language since Rwanda broke ties with French and joined the commonwealth. So for the past two years the official language of the hospital has been English. Morning meetings happen in English, but the doctors are all far more fluent in French, and some only speak French. As such the conversation often switches languages. It is also interesting to learn a bit of the African French accent.

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Yes of francophone culture by speaking to people who grew up in the DR Congo for example, or of the history of French and Belgian involvement in this area of Africa.

If you went back would you do anything differently? Try and stay for a bit longer or travel for a bit longer afterwards

How did you get there? Ethiopair via Addis Ababa

Approximate total cost? £2500 all in: flights (£700), accommodation and food for 4 weeks on elective and 3 weeks travelling, lots of national park entry fees, including $500US for gorillas.

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? Bring one white-coat. Maestro card isn’t accepted anywhere, mastercard some places with difficulty (only Kigali). There were adverts of “international” visa ATMs in other towns in Rwanda but the only ones I got to work were in Kigali. US dollars cash carry by far the best exchange rate (so that I got a better rate changing £ to $ before I went and then changing again to RFr). In my opinion the Bradt guide is better than Lonely Planet at the moment, but prices have risen since the 4th edition.

 

Report 3

Reporter: Shivani Datta

Contact at destination: Hovaire Nsabimana Email: hova0020@gmail.com. Hovaire is currently a final year medical student at the hospital and has helped several students organise their elective placements in the past.

Year of visit: 2011

Country: Rwanda

Institution: Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare (CHUB)

Departments: Internal Medicine, Paediatrics, Other

Work / Study undertaken

Internal Medicine: 7:30am morning meeting where patients admitted on take the previous day were presented, plus any interesting or difficult cases on the wards. The case is presented by the final year student, and then discussed amongst the senior staff. There is plenty of opportunity to ask questions, everyone is very welcoming and friendly! Most activities occur in the morning. Usually I conducted a student-led ward round (sometimes alone!), or sometimes went to outpatients clinic. There were always Rwandan medical students around to help translate. The nursing staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. In the afternoon there is an even greater paucity of staff, and I would revue my patients on the ward, or visit other interesting departments e.g. transfusion unit, haemodialysis unit etc.

Paediatrics: 7:30am morning meeting- very similar format to the one for internal medicine (except the Professor of Paediatrics was a bit harsher on the students! He is a brilliant teacher though). On Wednesdays the Professor does a grand ward round- it is crowded but very useful. Other days there are ward round- there are more doctors on Paediatrics so more opportunities for asking questions. I spent most of my time on the acute ward where there was the highest turnover of patients. I also spent some time in neonatology- they have all the latest equipment here e.g. phototherapy for jaundice. There is a dedicated PMTCT (Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission of HIV) unit which is well worth going to. The doctor running the clinic was very helpful and explained all the rationale for ARV regimens. The Paediatrics outpatients was a brilliant learning opportunity and the doctors were very willing to stop and explain.

Other: I spent some days in the other departments also, to get a more holistic feel for the hospital. In surgery, operating lists run on three mornings per week, and the rest of the time is spent in emergency (the equivalent of A&E). I saw a range of operations e.g. total abdominal hysterectomy, internal fixation of shoulder, laparotomy, orchidopexy. Obstetrics & Gynaecology was excellent. I spent a lot of time on the labour ward. The staff are keen to encourage students to deliver babies! There is also the opportunity to see C-sections. I found Gynaecology outpatients very interesting- in Rwanda, breast pathology comes under the remit of Gynaecology too! I also organised to visit community health centres and district hospitals to get a feel for community healthcare. Rwanda has a very efficient structural hierarchy, so it was very helpful to see the various elements of it.

Description of the service and department

Centre Hospitalier de Butare is a government-funded hospital, with roughly 200 beds. It is one of the four big referral hospitals in Rwanda, so receives the most complex cases. It is the only referral hospital outside Kigali.

The hospital has a lot of specialist services on offer, and a regional transfusion centre next door. There is the capability to perform complex investigations (not CT, for which patients must go to Kigali), however in practice due to poor funds most investigations cannot actually be performed. It is common to order laboratory tests only to find most of the them cannot be done as the laboratory doesn’t have the necessary reagents. In the 6 weeks I spent there I never saw even one ECG actually done, despite the hundreds that were requested!

All the departments I spent time in were incredibly busy with a huge caseload. However all the doctors were very friendly, very relaxed and above all very welcoming. They are used to having medical students so were readily able to cater to my needs. I was treated as one of the local Rwandan medical students, which made me feel very welcome and well integrated- although I was initially intimidated as final year Rwandans have much more responsibility than final year medical students in the UK!

Description of the destination

The hospital is in Butare, a town in southern Rwanda, near the border with Burundi. Butare is mainly a student town as it is dominated by the university. It is full of young people, and there are a couple of really nice cafes (I highly recommend Cheers!). No one cooks food really, everyone eats out at one of the many very cheap buffet-style “restaurants”. The one on the hospital site is good, and the cheapest I found. A slightly nicer one in town is Le Bon Jardin. The town has all the basic necessities, and a wonderful fruit and vegetable market- I got addicted to mangos! Butare is well-connected, it only takes 2 hours to get to Kigali by bus and the road is good.

Were the local people friendly? Did you feel safe and if not why not?

Individually, Rwandans are incredibly friendly and really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. As a people, however, I definitely got the sense that I was a foreigner and couldn’t try to integrate with them. Having said that, by the end of the trip, people in the shops I used to go to would recognise me and say hello!

I had a couple of incident at nighttime where someone attempted to mug me. This was very frightening, especially as there is no option but to walk at night to get food (the cooking facilities are very limited). I got around this by eating in the canteen on the hospital site more often. And I always took a torch with me. This is absolutely essential. Do not go out at night without a torch. There are no streetlights in Butare, and it gets so dark that it really is impossible to see anyone.

There were local elections occurring, twice, during the time I was there. Apart from an increased military presence in the town, I didn’t really notice. Despite Rwanda’s turbulent history, I felt very safe and didn’t experience any political aggression.

What did you do in your spare time? Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do?

In my spare time during the week I explored Butare, went to the markets and got clothes made! At weekends I travelled around Rwanda. It is such a small country that this is really very easy to do. Rwanda is such a gorgeous country, and there are so many things to do! Many people have heard to trekking for the mountain gorillas- this is very expensive but I thoroughly enjoyed it, you can get really really close to them!

One thing that should not be missed is the Nyungwe forest. This is close to Butare and can even be done as a day trip. It is so stunning and is full of different species of primates.

Lake Kivu is serene. I went to the quieter Kibuye which I loved (early morning swimming in the beautiful still lake was idyllic!), although some people prefer to go to the more tourist-geared Gisenyi.

I also went to Bujumbura in Burundi for the weekend (this is very easy to do from Butare). I would say that at present Bujumbura is the only safe place to go to in Burundi. The border crossing was fine, and the bus journey took roughly 5 hours. The beaches by Lake Tanganyika are extraordinary!

What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like? January-March. It was cool, and sometimes grey, and once it hailed so heavily it hurt! Mostly it was sunny and not too hot. It did rain a fair bit though, so not so different from home!

What was your accommodation like? I stayed in a hostel run by nuns right opposite the hospital. The room was spacious with a bed (with mosquito net), desk and wardrobe. There is a communal shower with only cold water (I got used to this and actually came to enjoy it!) and shared toilets. They have a very very basic cafe in the building. I found this pretty useless- they sell very milky very sweet tea and various bread-based snacks which I didn’t like very much. There is a security guard at the gate 24/7. I felt very safe there.

Was it provided? No

If not who arranged it? Hovaire helped me to arrange it. I was supposed to stay in a guest house but ultimately preferred this hostel as it was so close to the hospital.

How much did it cost? $10 per week.

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes! Definitely yes! I learnt so much medicine and felt so welcomed by the staff and students! My French improved greatly, it was really fun knowing some medical French, and I even picked up a little Kinyarwanda. The country is so beautiful, and is really developing quickly. I am very glad I got the chance to experience it.

Did you find the visit useful medically? – in what way? I got exactly what I wanted: an appreciation of how medicine is practiced in a developing country and how that is different to the UK. I am very glad I went to a big referral hospital, as I learnt that medical training is just like the UK, the only shortfalls that arise are due to a lack of money. It was important for me to experience the frustration of not being able to offer the care I wanted to due to a lack of funds. And it was also important to see the ways in which the doctors worked around this. Rwanda has a very efficient and complex system of medical health insurance which I am still trying to get my head around!

Has it improved your French? Yes, certainly! I really enjoyed becoming more fluent in French conversation, and was very impressed that I managed to learn about MDR-TB from the nurse specialist entirely in French!

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Rwanda was a Belgian colony and this had a huge impact on it. Just entering Kigali one feels the European vibe. However I would say that Rwanda now is distinctly Rwandan. The food, the lifestyle, the people are very much Rwandan.

If you went back would you do anything differently? I would spend longer on each ward as it is only by spending a good period of time in one setting that you can get more out of it and begin to take on some patients as your own.

How did you get there? Kenya Airways. My return flight to Nairobi cost around £450. I then travelled overground to Butare.

What was the approximate total cost? £3000

Is there any other information that you think may be useful?

Get the Bradt travel guide to Rwanda- its brilliant!

You’ll need a white coat to work in the hospital. Other than that, I would dress smartly but don’t worry about it too much- some of the doctors came in jeans some days!

The students would always welcome your textbooks if there are any you would want to take and leave behind. They especially loved the Oxford Handbooks!

Take a stethoscope, but treat it as one of your valuables.

It is possible to get cash out, but you can’t use ATMs, not even in Kigali. You have to go into the bank, which means you need to be aware of opening times, and you can’t do it on a Sunday.

The last Saturday of every month is Umuganda day (community service). I never worked out what the people actually do on this day, but certainly nothing useful is open until about 2pm. Some buses still run, but none of the tourist activities or shops or cafes will be open until the afternoon.

 

Report 4

Reporter: Imogen Ptacek

Contact at destination: Dr Andre Musemakweri, Hospital Director

Year of visit 2008

Country: Rwanda

Institution: CHU, Butare, Rwanda

Departments: Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Internal Medicine, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Paediatrics

Work / Study undertaken

Obstetrics and Gynaecology: I had a three-week placement in Obstetrics and Gynaecology where I assisted on the labour wards and in surgery. I enjoyed the placement so much that I continued to do night shifts in Obstetrics throughout the next 2 months of my placement. As a consequence I became integrated within the team and often gave case presentations in the morning ward rounds.

Internal Medicine: I spent one week in internal medicine where I learnt practical skills such as taking blood, draining ascites, and inserting catheters. I also learnt a great deal about neurology and got the opportunity to practice my clinical examination skills. I also came across many clinical presentations that I had only ever read about in books, for instance in one week there were three cases of Pott’s disease.

Orthopaedic Surgery: After internal medicine I moved to the busy orthopaedic ward. One of the scrub nurses had fallen sick and I was soon recruited to step into for her. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the practicalities of running a theatre and I soon learn all the names of the surgical instruments. During this 2-week placement I also attended evening classes for interns on anatomy and surgical skills

Paediatrics: I learnt a great deal about infectious diseases whilst in paediatrics encountering several cases of malaria, a case of tetanus, and a case of cysticercosis. It also learnt how to perform clinical examinations on children of all ages and did several night shifts where I assisted the interns in managing the paediatric emergency department.

Description of the service and department

CHU Butare is the largest hospital in the south of Rwanda and is affiliated with the University of Butare. It serves a patient population of nearly 2 million. Despite this the hospital is significantly smaller and less equipped than any of the hospitals in the capital and as a consequence patients often have to pay to be transferred to other hospitals for specialist treatments and imaging. The departments are often full and sometimes understaffed, but unlike hospitals in England, families are more likely to stay with their sick relatives overnight to provide comfort and support.

Description of the destination:

Rwanda has been dubbed the “land of a thousands hills” due to it’s beautiful green landscape of valleys and hills. Butare is the largest town in the south of Rwanda, but unlike the capital, Kigali, which is more like a city, Butare is a small, rural countryside town nestled in amongst coffee plantations. It takes approximately 4 hours to get there by bu.

Were the local people friendly? Did you feel safe and if not why not?

I felt completely at home in Rwanda. I was warmly welcomed into the hospital and was given fantastic opportunities to gain clinical experience. I found the people to be kind and good-natured. I was even invited to attend a wedding! I felt safe in Rwanda, but was sensible and made sure that I wasn’t ever out on my own late at night.

What did you do in your spare time? Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do?

I made friends in Kigali so I often travelled to the capital to join in with the weekend celebrations. The nightlife in Rwanda is superb and the people are great fun and love to dance. Also, I took several excursions out to the countryside to work with the coffee farmers on public health projects. Lake Kivu was beautiful and well worth a visit. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to visit the gorillas at the national park, but I met so many people who did and said it fantastic so I will definitely return one day to see them.

What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like?

June to August: the climate was hot and dry, I would advise lots of sunscreen, especially if you’re taking doxycycline as an anti-malarial

What was your accommodation like?

I was also volunteering for a fairtrade company called SPREAD who put me up in a small house living with an American girl who was working for Peace Corps.

Was it provided? Yes

If not who arranged it? N/a

How much did it cost? The charity kindly provided my accommodation for free, but if you want to stay at the hospital then there is also cheap accommodation available on site.

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes it was the best experience I have ever had and it has inspired me to pursue a future career in global health

Did you find the visit useful medically? – in what way?

Yes. It was an excellent opportunity to practice my clinical skills and I saw many clinical signs I had never seen before. I also got a lot of surgical and diagnostic experience

Has it improved your French? Definitely, most of the students and doctors only spoke French so I got to speak French all of the time.

 

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? I didn’t learn much about French culture during the trip but I have done a one-month placement in A and E in Paris since then

If you went back would you do anything differently?

I went after my second year of medical school therefore my medical knowledge was fairly limited, I would like to return once I’ve graduated as I feel that I would be able to give more back to the hospital. I would also have chosen a better airline as I was stranded in Ethiopia for 4 days on my way back.

How did you get there? I flew from London to Ethiopia, then from Ethiopia to Kigali, Rwanda, and then got a bus from Kigali to Butare

What was the approximate total cost? £2500

Is there any other information that you think may be useful?

The visa for Rwanda is free on arrival. Bradt travel guides are best for travel information. Remember to bring a lab coat, a stethoscope and medical textbooks, there is nothing worse than not being prepared! Be careful not to stay out late at night on your own, and avoid using motorcycle taxis if you can.