From CongoTeam Member – Maureen Burdynski
An amazing trip so far travelling with 18 large suitcases of medical equipment which we hauled onto six trolleys at three airports with the help of local porters and then piled into minibuses. Airport check-in staff were really helpful as we rolled up with our trolleys. So it is with much relief that we arrived in Kinshasa with all 18 bags in perfect condition
I’m part of Lucy’s team with medical trainers Dr Vera Sistenich, Dr Grace Maano (still to join us) and Chris Coombes Chris and I are documenting the trip.
Yesterday, our first day in Kinshasa, we visited the UPC Congo Protestant University where we received a wonderful warm welcome from the top academic staff. It is a privilege to be part of this team and experience the deep connections Lucy and her family have with the University and other organisations in the Congo. We attended meetings and learnt about the medical system in the Congo.
A couple of facts standout. Firstly, most of the medical services are provided by church organisations, and secondly, 70% of resources are in the towns which has only 20% of the population. It is difficult to get doctors to work in rural areas, especially remote ones such as where we will be going by canoe at the end of our trip. We toured the hospital and saw the medical clinic that the University provides and also the large building site that will provide much needed new facilities
After the tour we lunched at a restaurant where I was able to have my first taste of Congo river fish – Capitaine – delicious and taste local beer Tembo.
We are staying at MPH guesthouse which is much better than I expected – we still have hot running water, power and even Wifi, as you can see. Meal times are interesting as many people staying here work for NGOs so can hear about their experiences. At breakfast, Glen Chapman talked about his parachute vehicle – a unique way of getting around areas with no roads.
Today we are off to Kimpese, 220 kilometres away, where Vera will provide training in her speciality emergency medicine. The medical department of UPC started in 2006 and the first students graduated last year, one of whom works at Kimpese Hospital. I hope to organise an interview with him.
It is great to see the exchange of ideas and the exploration of future possibilities between Vera and the Medical Department of UPC. Yesterday was a rich day of medical information and exchanges – most of it new for me so my head was reeling by the end!
That was only the first day so now very excited to see what happens in Kimpese…..