Specialists without Borders continued its medical education initiatives into Africa with a seminar in surgery over three days in Kigali, Rwanda. This was followed by teaching at the medical school in Butare. Thirteen Australasian surgeons participated as lecturers as well as, for the first time, five medical students, who were partly sponsored by Allergan, and two surgical Registrars. As this was a new experience for the medical students it is worthwhile, I think, to quote from one of the student’s experience, which bears reporting.
I am not exaggerating when I say the experience I gained from this trip has helped shape me as a person and as a future doctor. Specialists Without Borders student
“Although we only stayed there for a week, the eye-opening experience I gained there is invaluable. This was my first time to be in Africa, it amazed me how much Rwanda has developed since the 94 genocide, which was only 16 years ago. The cities were clean and people were very friendly. I visited a local African family, who showed us around their house and farm. They have very little materially compared to us, yet they are happy and work hard to provide for their children.
The Rwandan people are also very gentle – for example, in the local markets they do not push us to buy things despite the fact a lot of them struggle to make a living, unlike the scenes we commonly encounter in markets in other developing countries. As I am involved in the Surgical Students' Society of Melbourne, I am currently in touch with the head of Rwandan Students' Society, whom I have met there, to look at possible ways of us helping them financially to develop AIDS and hepatitis C prevention programs for the local Rwandan community. Our next step is also to set up a students exchange program for electives.
As personally I have learned enormous amount of clinical experience by tagging along the Rwandan doctors just for a day or so, I believe it would be extremely beneficial for more Australian medical students to see what it is like in Africa and for Rwandan medical students most of whom have never been abroad to see the Western system.
I am not exaggerating when I say the experience I gained from this trip has helped shape me as a person and as a future doctor. The surgeons from SWB have inspired me to pursue surgery as a future career and I would love to get involved with SWB in the long term.”
The seminar in surgery was requested by the Rwandan Surgical Society, to which SWB has now become an official affiliate, and the National University of Rwanda/medical school as a way to continue the postgraduate medical education and to build on the successful seminar conducted in 2009 on medical and surgical emergencies .