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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

ADVENTURES IN RWANDA

Early this year there was a hash tag trending on twitter, #Ambition2015, which was basically about New Year resolutions. I twitted about my plan to visit Rwanda this year. I’m happy to tell you that I’ve fulfilled that resolution.

I was in Rwanda from the 20th to 22nd February for the 6th Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association (RPSA) symposium. It was held under the theme, “Integrating emerging technologies for the improvement of health care delivery”. Two of us represented Makerere University Pharmacy Students Association (MUPSA) at the symposium.

The Journey
The travel plan was to leave for Kigali at 8:00pm on 19th. But guess what, the time written on the bus tickets we booked a day before was 8:00am thus we missed the bus. Fortunately after negotiation with the bus officials, our tickets were forwarded to 1:00am on 20th at a fine of shs. 10,000. We paid shs.55, 000 in total and thereafter had to wait five hours at the bus terminal for our bus.

There isn’t much to write about the journey because we travelled while it was dark, save for the foggy and beautiful hills of Kabale that were quite a sight at dawn.
The fog in Kabale

At the border
Crossing the border was hustle free. To our amazement, all we needed to cross the border were our University IDs, marking the first time I ever felt really East African.
For your information, polythene bags (Buveras) are not allowed in Rwanda. In case you have it, you’ll leave at the Uganda side of the border.

It was my first time crossing a Uganda boarder

Finally in Rwanda.
Rwanda is known as a land of thousand hills. You can imagine how the roads have been constructed, meandering. Tea is the most common crop grown on the hills, though you’ll not fail to notice some rice plantations.

It just took us 2 hours to reach Kigali from the border. We set foot in Kigali at around 10:30am (Rwandan Time)

Immediately we reached the park, the person who was supposed to pick us (Shakila) called me and she directed the Boda Bodas to take us where she was.

The Bodas in Rwanda are very organized. They strictly carry one person, both the rider and passenger use helmets, wear reflector jackets, and respect traffic lights. The traffic lights are quite different from the ones in Kampala. They have timers, so there is a kind of countdown for the road users to know for how long it shall show green and red. Zebra crossings are also very much respected.
At the museum of natural history of Rwanda with my colleague Samuel from MUPSA. 

L-R:Patricia (from Kenyatta University),Me,Samuel and Shakila.

Nyarugenge Prison in Kigali.

A street in Kigali. It is a very clean city.

Time for Lunch. The foods aren't so different from the ones in Uganda.It's mostly Uganda music that is played around.
The venue for the symposium, School of Medicine and Pharmacy of University of Rwanda was in Huye. Huye is in the southern part of Rwanda (close to the border of Burundi). It is a roughly two and half hour drive from Kigali (yes, Rwanda is very small).

The Symposium
There were many participating Universities; Jomo Kenyatta University (Kenya), University of Bukavu(DRC),Mount Kenya University(Rwanda branch),  Makerere University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kampala International University and University of Rwanda(the host).

The symposium presented a great opportunity to network and make friends from across the region and different universities. Some of the emerging technologies discussed included; SMS, mobile apps, social media, tele-medicine, health information websites in local languages.

Another equally important issue that arose at the symposium was the need to integrate Pharmacy practice in East Africa.
New friends. At the extreme left is Israel Bimpe, President RPSA.

                                                               
Beautiful monkey.The University is in a forest. Sights of such animals are common.

This photo caused a lot excitement of on social media.Even my mum called me about it. Meet my new friend Christine.
Lunch time at the symposium.



A presentation during the symposium.

Selfie moment. L-R: Samuel, Me and Shakilah.
Selfie moment with Benny. She is also my new friend.
This is what happen when results are pinned at University of Rwanda.

It was at the symposium that I learnt that 15 years anniversary is called Crystal Jubilee. Kudoz to RPSA. 

With the symposium moderators. Geoffrey and Sabrina.

We're happy. I think I am also tall.

A bar in Huye. The soda bottles are a bit old schooled.

Spread your wings and fly.

The genocide memorial sites
It is impossible to write about Rwanda and not mention about the genocide. I visited the genocide memorial centers at the University and in Kigali.
The memorial site at the University of Rwanda.
A souvenir shop at Kigali memorial site

It was a moment of reflection and learning at Kigali memorial.Entrance to the site is free although you'll be charged 6,000 rfw if you want to take photo inside.

It was a wonderful experience, murakoze (thank you) RPSA for the great hospitality.