We finally got a chance to spend about 10 days up in Kibuye visiting our sister team that works at a teaching hospital about 2 hours outside of Bujumbura. While the reason for our stay was not all that pleasant – it was a a really good time.
Even though we were there only 10 days – it did seem like a quite a bit happened. We toured the hospital, went for walks, the kids still did school, there was an earthquake, Susan made rounds with Dr Alyssa on the paediatric ward, we had meals together, almost daily security meetings, the kids played outside for hours on end – and so much more.
KIbuye Hope Hospital is out in the middle of nowhere – at least it seems like it in one sense. There is nothing around – yet there are people everywhere. Burundi is the most densely populated country in Africa- yet is almost completely un-urbanized. So instead of people crammed into large cities – the population really is kind of evenly spread out over everyone of the 1,000 hills.
We got a chance to go for some walks – up to a bit of a lookout where you can see back over the hospital below..and if you’re lucky, play with some goats.
At one point there were two other families from Bujumbura who also left the city due to the unrest – who also happened to be Canadian. In fact at one point there were 44 Americans & Canadians there – meaning that we were for sure the largest contingency outside the city…if not remaining in the country. At one point during a phone call from the Canadian consulate I suggested to just tell them that all remaining Canadians were together up here – and Micah suggested they could just send a chinook helicopter for us..but it never came. Budget cuts I suppose. We were joking that we kind of had a Canadian refugee camp, but then at one point when we had a communal meal of beans and rice as a bunch of the girls were getting de-loused (luckily, we managed to avoid the lice) – I was saying that we were pretty much one case of disyntery away from being a UNHCR recognized camp for internally displaced persons.
Our time up at Kibuye Hope Hospital was a fantastic chance to see what rural Burundian life is really like. Since 90% of the country is outside Bujumbura (the only real city) it is a much clearer picture of what life is like. Since we basically (AKA: “almost”) got everything straightened out with our car registration before we left – this was our first chance to ever get out of the city. So the kids got to have local treats: goat kabobs, and a stick of sugar cane.
Matea decided she didn’t want any – she was convinced that the goats walking past were looking over at us – and at the goat carcass…and silently judging us I guess. I did tell her that it was unlikely that this goat that was being cooked was the same one she was holding the day before…
However a 50cm stick ‘o sugar cane for the equivalent of a few cents is too much to pass up.
Since we are still home-schooling our kids (one of the best decisions we have ever made..since we can continue with pretty close to normal school, while others are struggling with schools closed in Bujumbura for who knows how long) – we try to integrate little field trips in whenever we can. The kids were studying the eye in science class – so Susan asked John (ophthalmologist) if we could come up to his eye clinic. Thinking – perhaps they can look at some of his eye-models, perhaps look at each other’s eyes, etc. He told us to come up the next day – as he would be doing procedures. Well lets just say that within a minute or so of us being in the room with all our 4 kids – plus one more – the glaucoma surgery started. John did put it up on the screen so they could see every gory detail. It was just at about the time that he cut into the eyeball to release the pressure, declared something along the line of “whah…I’ve got a bleeder here” – that one of ours went down. Boom – out cold, head on the concrete floor. So now we gained some pleasant memories (that can never, ever, ever be unseen) a minor concussion, and some kids I’m pretty sure were able to strike one more career option off the list.
It was a great 10 days or so – allowing us and our kids to spend more time with our dear teammates up there at Kibuye. It gave us a chance to see what they do, how they live, and just hang out with them for a while. Hopefully next time there will be less evacuation plans and security meetings.
BONUS FEATURE: If you’ve never seen the videos that were put together outlining the work done at Kibuye – check them out here:
- an overview of their dream and the project
- Alyssa speaking about the fight against malnutrition
- Rachel talking about the importance of maternal care
- Eric discussing the realities of medical training
- John revealing his motivations to bringing eye care (and if you don’t tear-up with this one…you are officially dead inside)