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Doctor Anny

Some people choose their careers because it pays the best or because their parents pushed them into it. Some people just stay in school because they cannot think of anything better to do. Doctor Kahindo Muyisa Anny became a doctor because she was fed up with the amount of people left to suffer in silence because the hospital system just could not care for them. One of these people was Anny’s mother.

Growing up, Anny remembers how her mother was always sick. She had three cesareans and her first two births were still born. She continued to suffer from fistorectomy which essential means she had acquired an extremely painful hole down there. In addition, she had hypertension to top it off. Anny’s own experience with the hospital was of frustration. At age twelve, Anny developed myopia. She arrived early in the morning and waited until the sun had set. She had been skipped on the list and never treated. She swore to herself that if she became a doctor she would fix the system.

When Anny started university, her parents were lucky enough to help her with her school fees. However, their funds quickly ran out and she was left to find money in other ways. With what money she had, she bought some baby pigs which ranged at ten dollars a piece. Before, after and between classes, Anny took care of her pigs. Soon she was making enough by selling baby pigs of her own that she could pay for her classes.

After graduating, she began working at the Kyondo hospital. Soon after, she met and fell in love with Pierre Kakule Vwirasihikya the coordinator of the Tayna Nature Reserve. When they got married, she moved to Goma and found a job at the Goma Provincial Hospital. In addition to working, she takes care of seven kids, five of which are Pierre’s from his late wife.

In 2003, she began working for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in charge of the ecosystem health program. In this position, she is responsible for a large amount of projects such as an orphanage that feeds and bathes children of war who go to school within the center. There is also a program for widows where the women are being trained to raise pigs just like Anny. She is also in charge of coordinating a program that ensures that communities around the reserves are getting enough protein. For each family, they are given either a sheep or a goat. In addition she is also in charge of theTayna Muyisa Primary School.

Despite the enormous amount of responsibility she has for the programs and her family, Doctor Anny is very satisfied with her job. “It is a pleasure for me to be a part of DFGFI. I can be a doctor and take care of many parts of the community,” she says, “Everyone has a place in the picture of conservation.”

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BisateMany things can be said about Rwanda but it certainly is not flat. The drive to the Karisoke Research Center wound up and down the hills of the countryside. The driver knew the route well and sped past the many trucks that putted along the small road. Like a rag doll, I was thrust either towards the mountain or the cliff with each snaking turn. I lay back and took in the scenery as we raced along.

 

We arrived at the office just before noon. I was briefly introduced to everyone and allowed to put away my bag. Then I was off to Bisate, where I would be meeting Jean Peter, the water and sanitation consultant. Bisate is the community closest to the forest where the gorillas live and, therefore, also to the people who have the most contact with them. Gorillas are known to come into the area and human parasites can easily infest a gorilla.

CNN camera crew

When I arrived at the Bisate clinic, CNN camera crews were already there. Jean Peter apologised, saying that they had come at the last minute and would be gone soon. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sudden change in my surroundings since I set out that morning. I had arrived in a much colder, rainier part of Rwanda where I knew practically no one. My French seemed to be of little help as well.

 

Once Jean Peter was done with the reporters, he came over to show me around. The clinic is small but fully functional. It was a miracle it was there at all. Originally, the clinic did not have clean water or adequate sanitation. In addition, it had a rat infestation caused by improper disposal of placentas and body parts, and only 15 to 20 people could be served per day.

 

wound dressing room, Emmanuel Mpabwanimana

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International became involved with the clinic in 2006. Jean Peter explained that conservation could not work unless the communities surrounding the conservation area were taken care of. Lack of medical care is directly related to gorilla welfare and it is essential to “break down this channel of transmissions.”

toiletsThe clinic has seen huge improvements since the Fund began to implement its Ecosystem Health Programs which help fund new equipment and the training of the medical staff. Every bed has a mattress, and the maternity roomWater tanks has new equipment and is getting a new delivery table. There is a consultation room, laboratory services where HIV/AIDS tests can be performed, a wound dressing room, a pharmacy, a maternity room, a delivery room and a room for hospitalized patients. The clinic does vaccinations, prenatal consultation, family planning, health education and a nutritional program. The clinic now serves 50-70 people per day and 17,401 people in the entire community. There are nine new toilets, with two reserved for hospitalized patients. Many universities have come to work with the clinic: MIT helped install the water tanks that collect rainfall; Dartmouth University installed a biogas project that would use the gas created by the latrines to heat a stove; and most exciting of all, Columbia University is helping the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to install solar panels.

Even with all these improvements, conditions are still cramped. All patients in hospitalization are lumped into one room right next to the maternity room. Plans for the future are to build a new house that would separate men, women, and children, but it requires funding. Hopefully, the clinic will be able grow much more . The people of Bisate as well as the gorillas can only benefit.

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