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Well, we are here and spent our first day at Muganero Hospital.
On Saturday, many of us went to the Volcanoes National Park to see the gorillas. What an amazing experience that was! We left for the park at 6:00am, got there at about 6:45am, and waited for the guides to separate us into groups of eight, whereupon we got into park vehicles and drove to various starting points.
There are 18 gorilla families in the park; eight of them are visited and 10 are not. Trackers stay with the eight visited families through the day and keep track of where they bed down so they can be found the following day. Each group of eight people are assigned a guide and a gorilla family and hike up with the guides through the jungle. Our group visited the 'Titus' family. We hiked two hours and 45 minutes through bamboo, stinging nettles and dense brush gaining 1,200' in elevation when we finally came upon our family. We were instructed to leave our gear and take only our cameras with no flash. Then we proceeded to visit with the gorillas for an hour. We were very excited to see them but they barely acknowledged us. They just went about their business of eating and snoozing as if we were not there at all. We were amazed at how close we were to these magnificent docile creatures.
We got back to our hotel for a quick cleanup before our steep, 4-wheel drive up to the Virunga Lodge, a cluster of beautiful buildings overlooking the Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo. There we were entertained by native dancers before sitting down to a marvelous dinner.
On Sunday morning we all boarded the bus for the 106 km trip from Musanze to Kigali. After lunch in Kigali, those of us heading to Muganero re-boarded the bus for the four and a half hour trip; three hours on pavement and one and a half hours on rocky dirt roads, sometimes referred to as a "Rwandan massage".
We arrived at the hospital around sunset and after moving a few beds around we had soup and homemade bread for dinner and settled in for the night. Monday morning the medical crew and building crew began our work.
We were pleased that construction had begun on the gazebo. The footings and wall supports had been done. We went to work on the roof. Today five steel trusses were cut and welded. We need eight in total so will start on the other three in the morning.
Today was a clinic day, where patients came in and were evaluated for treatment. About 38 patients were seen. Five surgeries are scheduled for tomorrow, three on Wednesday and another two follow up surgeries on Thursday. Nine additional surgery patients came in tonight from a different hospital to be examined and added to the surgery schedule.
Today, a baby was born in the hospital with bilateral club feet. She will be receiving her first casts on Thursday. This is the first of a six week process, but how lucky for her to be treated immediately by Maurice, who attended the Rilima Ponseti training.
Coincidentally, a nine year old girl came to the hospital today with her mother because they heard the Centura team was here and wanted to thank them. Two years ago her feet were surgically corrected. Today she walks normally. While payment is never expected, Mom offered up one of her few chickens in appreciation.
Annie and her husband Tony Harris are helping build a gazebo at the hospital in Mugonero. Tony has been a general contractor in Breckenridge for about 30 years. Annie and Tony went to Honduras with Doc PJ where they constructed a school in a village along the Patuca River.
About the Rwanda Medical Missionary trip
Dr. Peter Janes of Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and a medical team will be traveling to Rwanda July 22-August 11 on a medical missionary trip. The group will be providing no-cost surgical, medical and community health programs, education, training and relief in an area where health care is often limited or difficult to obtain. Most surgeons fled the African country or were killed during the major genocide in 1994.
The group involves 20 participants, eight from Summit County, working on seven defined projects. Dr. Janes will be performing surgeries and conducting workshops to train local health care providers on how to correct club foot in newborns. This year he will be at three different hospitals; Rilima, Mugonero and CHUK, for a week each. In addition, there is a surgical team at King Faisal hospital in Kigali, working at the orphanage, and a team building a gazebo at Mugonero.
The group is sending home daily blog entries with photos and depictions of their daily experiences. Be sure to check the VSO Blog http://blog.vsortho.com for updates.