Friday, April 13, 2012

SOMA's Birth

Continuing with updates. During our training period, myself and other volunteers came up with the idea of publishing a journal to capture our PC service. We wanted a professional looking journal with official feel to it. Here's the proposal letter I put together and sent to the PC Country Director, John, and his deputy, Biba. (Original Date, April 29th, 2009)

John and Biba,

A group of the volunteers expressed interest in putting together a Peace Corps/Rwanda Magazine/News Letter. We set up two meetings to brain storm on content and structure and came up with this DRAFT proposal that we would like to share with you.

We would like to initiate a quarterly Peace Corps Rwanda journal publication, journal title that we came up with is, “SOMA: Stories, Opinions, Messages, Art”. SOMA also means “READ” in Kinyarwanda. The publication will serve the purpose of capturing the experiences and stories of interested volunteers. The journal will be a montage of free-form entries both professional and personal that could include articles, poetry, photographs, and shared lessons and experiences from the field. The journal will eventually serve as a documentary for current and future volunteers, as well as any interested readers. Publication guidelines will be in place and enforced by the managing editor, ensuring the adherence to Peace Corps policies.

Journal publication will be as followed:

• PCVs submit free-form entry via email or mail (ie: poem, drawing, article, photo, story, etc.)
• Submissions must be received by managing editor one month prior to publication date
• Submissions will be reviewed and approved by managing editor according to the set guidelines
• Entries may be in Ikinyarwanda or English
• Publication dates will be the first week of:
o Aug 09, Nov 09, Feb 10, May 10, Aug 10, Nov 10, Feb 10
• Estimated cost per print copy is 500 rwf.
• An E-copy may be made available free of charge.

Sample Format:
Below is a sample of the titles that will be included in this publication along with responsible party for content review.
I. Index
II. Letter from Editor-in-Chief
III. Letter from Country Director/APCD
IV. Featured Partner Organization - Ahmed
V. Free-Form Articles and Stories
a. Lessons learned and active projects – Anna
b. Book Reviews – Katie
c. Kinyarwanda Page – Bryna
i. Fact sheet
ii. Dictionary
iii. Culture review
d. Travel Section – Ahmed
i. Places to visit, eat and stay
VI. Entertainment section
a. Fashion Review – Jacelyn
b. Music Review - Brandon
c. Word on the Street from Kigali – Raechel
d. Advice Column “Words from Felician” – Felician
e. Poetry – Emmet
f. Horoscope – Chrissi
g. How to… - Taylor
VII. Arts and Photography - Malcolm
VIII. Comics – Tom and Emmet
a. Where’s Mup?!

I. Production
Main form of production will be in paper form. Volume size will range from 20-30 pages with estimated number of copies (50)
Number of pages 25
Print cost per page 15 RWF
Binding cost per copy = 75 RWF
Other Cost per copy = 100 RWF

Total cost per copy (est.) = 500 RWF
Number of copies 50
Total print Cost (est.) = 25,000 RWF

Electronic form will also be available and can be sent via email.

II. Delivery
Mode of delivery will need to be finalized. Several options are available
a. Using mail boxes at the PC office in Kigali for pick up during site visit
b. Mail delivery
c. Delivery by PC staff visiting PCV sites
d. Electronic copy to be sent via email

III. Accounting
Average cost per copy is estimated at 500RWF

Sources for funding this publication will vary:

• Application for PEPFAR funding for issues covering HIV/AIDS and other PEPFAR related projects
• Application for funding from NGOs and/or other organization featured in the publication
• Charging recipient of publication the estimated cost of 500 rwf.

Stories from the Field

I'm slowly updating my blog with missing time lines from my Peace Corps service in Rwanda. Here's a draft publication that I sent to my NGO following one of my work projects on the field. (original date July 24, 2009)

Access Project and GE Collaboration Brings Much Needed Equipments to Nemba
Hospital in Rwanda

Another successful collaboration between Access Project and GE Global Health brings
valuable instruments to Nemba Hospital, District of Gakenke, Northern Province,
Rwanda. Access Project through its partnership with GE secured the donation of new
patient Anesthesia monitors and other equipments worth more than ($ADD VALUE HERE). Nemba Hospital surgeons operate in two theatre rooms and perform up to 4 procedures a day. One of the two theatre rooms is equipped with old generation anesthesia monitoring system that is limited in capabilities. The second room lacked any anesthesia monitoring system and could only be used for minor procedures. Today,
surgeons at Nemba can perform up to 6 operations a day and include pediatric patients
instead of transferring pediatric cases to other hospitals.

With the new acquisition, the hospital now is has two theatrical rooms equipped with
essential patient monitoring instruments. In addition to the added operating room
capacity, the new GE Datex-Ohmeda 7100 comes with many bells and whistles. The
new equipment is outfitted with an intuitive user interface that displays all the patient information needed for assessing the clinical status of the patient. It also features the ability to set and personalize vital sign parameters appropriate for the patient age and gender. An intelligent alarm system offers preset alarm limits for different parameters and adjusts the alarms in critical situations by sensing the duration, severity and the combination of different alarms. “this new equipment gives me confidence. The surgeon is feeling more confident and secured being informed of the patient clinical status” says Marcel (LAST NAME and TITLE HERE), anesthesiologist at Nemba Hospital.

The new GE equipment empowers surgeons during operations and enables fast and
accurate decision making. It increased theatre throughput, efficiency, and improved
patient outcomes through comprehensive monitoring and automated administration of
anesthesia drugs.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

End of Peace Corps Service

I keep realizing how bad I am in updating my blog, a lot has happened since my last short post as usual and I hope one day I'll have the time and the connection to post updates.

But this post here will be dedicated to mark the end of my Service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. I started this blog back in 2008 while I was still in the application process. Now in March 2011, I celebrate this great accomplishment. On Friday, March 25, 2011, I submitted my last stool sample, had my final exit interview and submitted the last of many forms just to be 'closed out' of Peace Corps service.

I'm in now in Stone Town, Zanzibar, relaxing beach side for a few days before heading home end of next week.

The past couple of weeks have been stressful, emotional and bitter sweet as I scrambled to finish projects, said good bye, attended thank you parties, and discovered the love many people in Rwanda have for me. I honestly thought that I can just sneak out after saying quick good byes. Many people in the various places I lived in served in in Rwanda wanted and demanded a proper send off.

In Gakenke, I spend the biggest chunk of my service there, 15 months, and thus it feels the closest to being called home with many friends and family.

I spend one week there earlier this month to have the time to say thank and good bye to my family there. This included my resource family, Frodouard and his wife, the hospital staff at Nemba, the health centers at Gakenke, the guys from the local mosque, Mohammad, his wife Mama Mo'men, and his 3 year old son, Mo'men, who remembers me by name as the guys who brings him candy and got him new sandals!!

I also met with the new district mayor and made a final push to get my two unfinished projects there done. The public library and the rabbit farm remain unfinished as I leave the country, but I'm confident that the PCVs replacing me at my site and my counterpart will finish the job!!

The other two sites I worked at with PIH are in Butaro and Rwinkwavu. leaving Butaro was very hard and taking that last walk at the hospital ground was very emotional. I'm truly going to miss this place, walking around revewing operation and work with the staff on getting the hospital up and running. All the good wishes from the nursing staff, the pharmacy and lab staff, and other admin were appreciated and will stay with me.

I'm going to miss the people of Rwanda, the many places I visited in Rwanda, and the Friends I made there. I hope to return one day but for the time being I'm proud to have finished my 2 years of service and look forward to going home to my family and friends before I take on the next adventure in my life.

I promise I'll post updates once I'm home sweet home CHICAGO.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Late Updates from 2010_Nov

To be continued: Mount Kili

Late Updates from 2010_Dec (Part 2)

In December I also got to travel to South Africa on Med Evac. I broke my tooth a couple of weeks before while I was eating some dried cherries that my sister sent to me from the US in a care package. The bag contained a pit that I bit hard on. The same tooth was already cracked from biting on a little rock mixed up with my rice and beans about two months prior. So the second hard object was sure to break my tooth into three pieces.

One of the great values from volunteering with the Peace Corps is medical coverage which includes Med Evac. If the service cannot be done in the host country, Rwanda, then we get to be med evaced, first to Kenya or South Africa for more complex cases such as dental. Dental care in Africa in general is very poor and only covers basic procedures such as extractions.

IN a nut shell, I got to go on an awesome trip to SA, mainly Pretoria and hang out there for a week. It was very refreshing and rejuvenating. South Africa felt just like home from the minute you land. The airport is very modern, wide clean streets, highways, McD's and all other American chains, shopping malls with all the brand stores and more.

The only difference was the heightened sense of security. All houses are behind erect walls with electrical wires, walking outside at night is considered dangerous. You must call a cab to go anywhere at night, wait for the cab to call back and let you know they're outside before you leave your house or any establishment.

The people there seem to have gotten used to this and don't even think about it. The other disturbing observation is the racist comments and segregation between white and blacks. I guess 16 years is not a long time to completely change people's minds against Apartheid! It took decades before the US came to terms with segregation, and Rwanda still suffers from the effects of the Genocide 16 years ago!

The younger generation, however, seem to be more tolerant and together they're building their country.

I didn't get to do much site seeing while there since I had frequent dentist visits while there. But it was great to experience SA and I will definitely be back there soon.

Late Updates from 2010_Dec

December was a quiet month. Many Muzungu go home for the holiday and many of the locals also take vacations around this time to spend CHristmas with family. I was one of very few people left around which provided for a nice and relaxing time, even at work without the hassle and the endless emails and requests to resolve pharmaceitical stockouts from any of the three hospitals and other pharmacy supply chain fires!!

In a previous post I talked about the new hospital project I'm involved in with PIH and how it wassupposed to open in October 2010. Well, the new date is end of January. A lot has been done and the hospital is in a great shape with lots of completed sections. We;re now in the process of getting the furniture and all medical equipment in place. II've been working with my counterpart on the hospital side to put together a distribution plan that we've been executing the past couple of weeks.

At this point, all available equipment and furniture is in place. However, we're still waiting on two other shipments to sort through and distribute as well as moving existing equipment fro mthe exsting facility.

Next week, the final touches in terms of site construction crew will be completed, IT connections, etc. The following week, my team's work will need to come to an end, and the planning for the inauguration event will begin. Expected at the inauguration event will be attended by the president, Paul Kagame, Paul Farmer, Bill Clinton (Clinton FOundation is a major donor), as well as other international and national guests.

Here're some picture updates. OR, one of the patient wards, and a garden shot

Rabbit Farm Project

Today was a great day. I woke up early in the morning and headed out to my old site at Gakenke, where I’m still maintaining two of my community projects. One of those is the Rabbit farm at Karambo. The Karambo project will support the malnutrition program at the health center there. The rabbit farm is meant to be a model compared to the type of construction done here. The farm will have capacity to house 50 rabbits. The farm design is adopted from an existing farm here but with more modern touches. An architect from the MASS group volunteered to draw the blue prints which I shared with two of the local carpenters whom will be working on this project.

The project was started back in August with grant from World Connect, a US NGO that supports Peace Corps volunteers’ projects. The project is still in the construction phase which is taking a little longer than expected. I try to visit there frequently to check on progress and follow up with the construction. I must admit, it’s a bit of a challenge, especially that I now live in the Eastern province with a full work load. I’m due to visit there sometime soon I hope. Here’re some images from the construction.