Week two in Rwanda

April 18, 2013 —

Yogesh Shah, M.D., DMU’s associate dean of global health, last year received a Fulbright Specialists Award that sent him this spring to Kigali Health Institute (KHI) in Rwanda. He is working with KHI to establish a center of excellence in palliative care training in Rwanda and neighboring African countries. The Fulbright Specialists Program, created in 2000 to complement the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program, provides short-term academic opportunities to prominent U.S. faculty and professionals to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at institutions around the world. Below Dr. Shah describes some of the friends he’s made in Rwanda.

Celestin and Agatha

Celestine and Agatha

I knew only two people when I arrived in Kigali on March 24. Now I know many more and three of them well; rather, they know me very well. They know what type of omelet I like, how much milk I prefer in my coffee, how I eat my passion fruit, at what temperature the air conditioner should be set, at what time I leave the hotel for work and many other idiosyncrasies about me (and, believe me, there are many).

These three new Rwanda friends are Celestine Niyonsenga, Cedrick Muhizi and Bosco John.

Celestine works at Golden Hills Hotel, where I am staying during my Fulbright work at Kigali Health Institute (KHI). He oriented to my room and the hotel during my first hour in Kigali, and since then we have connected. He invited me to his house. (I got the impression that I was the first foreigner to enter his clean, small house.) His wife, Agatha, and I communicated through simple body language since I have not picked up any French or Kinyarwanda in two weeks! I had some of the best coffee (much better and cheaper than Starbucks!) and farm-fresh peanuts and small bananas. Agatha was glowing with joy when I complimented her native dress.

Agatha and Dr. Shah

Agatha and Dr. Shah

Celestine and Bosco

Celestine and Bosco

Bosco has been my guide and driver every day since my arrival. KHI has provided me with a car and driver (I have heard DMU might do the same when I return on campus). During short and long rides, we talk about families, countries, work and his ambition to study in the future.

Cedrick and Dr. Shah

Cedrick and Dr. Shah

Cedrick is young and fun. Along with serving me hot breakfast, he likes to learn words from different Indian languages. Apparently Bollywood movies don’t create lasting impressions on me but are very popular in many countries outside of India; Rwanda has not escaped Bollywood’s charm and melodrama! Cedrick has watched more Hindi movies at his young age than I have in my entire life. He can say “hello” and many useful words in more than three different Indian languages. He jumps up and down with joy when  I tried “Murabeho” and couple of other Kinyarwandan words.

Murabeho = Au revoir = Avjo = Good bye


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