Yesterday morning we drove back out to Gashora from Kigali, and our car stalled about half way. We sat on the side of the road for 30 minutes, just enough time to gather quite a following of interested bystanders. We were picked up by a friend, and driven the rest of the way to the school. I continued on to the small town of Gashora to visit the Health Center and learn about The Access Project – a country-wide undertaking which aims to improve health infrastructure here in Rwanda.
The Gashora Health Center, through RwandaWorks and The Access Project, is a newly constructed building (2009) which serves the community. It consists of hospital care for men, women, and children, a maternity ward, preventative care, and HIV/AIDS testing and treatment. It treats about 150 patients a day and sees nearly 100 births every month. Since The Access Project started, there are close to zero home births as most women deliver at the Health Center. Women go through the birthing process without any family or friends present and without any painkillers. They are sent home after 72 hours of observation.
The Health Center also boasts a state of the art pharmaceutical technology, which helps to alert the pharmacy when drugs are close to their expiration date, when they have expired, and when their supply of a drug is running low. This helps save countless hours and ensure that the pharmacy is well stocked and efficient.
After the health center visit, I returned to the Girls’ Academy and had lunch with the staff. A typical fare of beans, rice, beets, onions and papaya was served. After lunch I spent more time observing the classrooms and taking pictures of the girls’. I also listened in on conversations about organic agriculture and how to best grow crops in the school garden.
After classes, around 2:30PM, the girls’ start their “jobs” and a frenzy of cleaning and organizing began. At 3:30, they headed to their clubs, which consist of French, dance, leadership, entrepreneurship, and debate. I was especially impressed with the singing and dancing, as well as the conversation during the leadership club. The girls were discussing issues of overpopulation and poor leadership and bringing up solutions to these problems in their own country and beyond. I am moved by their incredibly mature and well-informed perspectives of both Rwanda and the world beyond.