blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
By: Melissa Martelly (GYC Rwanda Alumna, Winter 2006/7)
I can distinctly remember the eerie silence as the plane landed on my first visit to Rwanda as part of GYC’s winter delegation in 2006/7. It was my first solo international trip and I was both excited with anticipation, but nervous about traveling so far away by myself. That initial two and a half week trip was one of the motivators that inspired me to pursue a career in international health and development. I briefly visited Kigali again in 2009 and was astounded by the development; hence it was no surprise when I returned in 2012 I was once again floored at how much construction had engulfed the city. While my first two visits focused in and around Kigali, I found myself now residing two hours east of the capital in Ngoma District working as a clinical nurse mentor with the groundbreaking Human Resources for Health Program. The familiarities of having visited the country before helped with my transition but I was far from the comforts of Kigali.
Kibungo, the capital of Ngoma District, is a small rural town with minimal development. I could still come to Kigali any time I wanted, but Kibungo was my home and I tried to make it that. Its picturesque hills, access to an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and the favorable weather made it an enjoyable place.
The working environment was challenging, trying to provide high quality healthcare with limited resources, though it taught me a great deal about what my Rwandan counterparts face every day. This past year exemplified the trials and opportunites of w
orking on the ground and in the front lines especially when trying to implement sustainable changes, collaboratively with Rwandan colleagues and not just as a western outsider, to nursing practice and nursing education.
Moreover, being back in Rwanda gave me an opportunity to reconnect with GYC colleagues, explore the country outside of Kigali and hopefully leave a small impact on nursing education and practice in concert with my Rwandan nursing colleagues.