But who is a statistic? A statistic is a person, a mother, daughter, sister, an aunty. She is the nameless woman that gets added to the reports about the problems, the needs, and the gaps to be filled.
My colleagues and I have settled into a routine and I have been able to foster relationships that are built on honesty and trust. Trust to do things the way I know and honesty to discuss why certain practices are in place and how to best improve them.
It is an interesting thing reflecting on the nature of care I saw in Guyana. I found myself struggling to keep up with state of the art techniques while practicing in a setting having to comply with the status quo. My favorite mental exercise while practicing down in this resource poor environment was “what drug can I give this patient today”. So much of the time in the states the answer is fairly easy and has a protocol behind it. Often the hospital in Georgetown would run out a typically used drug, which forced me to stop and think. I feel this made me a better physician.
I was lucky to have travelled to Kijabe at an exciting time; there has been an increase in awareness in the medical community about the lack of access to safe anesthesia in low-middle income countries. The GE corporation has been prescient and magnanimous in their support of the efforts by anesthesiologists at Vanderbilt to create a sustainable program to educate Kenyan nurse anesthetists on how to provide a safe anesthetic.
The travel time was the most painstaking part of the process to return to Rwanda, not because it took me over 24 hours but because I was just so ready to be back. They say third time’s a charm so I guess we shall see. The first time I arrived was in 2009, I was as a freshly graduated young adult with hopes of changing the world. The Peace Corps was instrumental in curbing my idealism and provided a better picture of what development and progress looks like.
Data is important. Because of data collection and monitoring, UNICEF can report that, “On average, one out of every 11 children born in sub-Saharan Africa dies before the age of 5.” In this example, data demonstrates the magnitude of the problem and serves as a catalyst for people to come together to develop strategies and implement programs to improve child health. Then, with continued data collection and monitoring, progress towards reducing child mortality can be measured.
Humanitarian photographer Esther Havens tells the incredible story of photographing the mother and baby in Rwanda, that later became the cover photo for The Mother & Child Project. Six years later, Havens returned to Rwanda to see what had become of the mother and baby that had meant so much to her for all these years.

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