• Rwanda

  • Orthopedic care in Rwanda: A step in a new direction.

    Referred to as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda has had a turbulent history, culminating in the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of almost 1 million Rwandans in just 100 days. The country has made great strides in their recovery; however there is still a lot work to be done to strengthen Rwanda’s healthcare system.

    In a country of over ten million people, only a few orthopedic surgeons exist.  This has vast implications in a country where most people engage in manual labor to feed their families and ensure that they do not fall further into poverty. Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly 400 children are born with clubfoot in Rwanda each year. Babies born with clubfoot in industrialized countries are treated soon after birth when their tendons and ligaments are still very flexible. Unfortunately for children in Rwanda, treatment is not available at birth. When left untreated, clubfoot congenital deformity results in sever disability, social stigma and isolation.

    GHI’s Step in a New Direction Program in Rwanda is focused on building the countries capacity to provide orthopedic care; specifically strengthening orthopedic surgery services at Mugonero Hospital and providing corrective surgeries for children suffering from clubfoot.

    Disabilities and injuries which would be quickly addressed in the developed world are simply left untreated in Rwanda; GHI is working to change that reality.

    Emmanual’s Story

    “I was shocked when I first saw Emmanuel's feet. He suffered from a severe form of bilateral clubfoot which had never been treated or corrected - only endured. I was part of a Centura Health team of volunteers working at Mugonero Hospital in Rwanda when I first met Emmanuel. Since that day, Global Health Initiatives, through the financial support of generous donors, has funded many clubfoot surgeries for children like Emmanuel.” - Greg Hodgson, GHI Director


  • The medical mission project in Rwanda is open to any health care professionals who are interested in going. Limited non-clinical activities are also available for spouses and teenage children of participants.

    To apply, select an option below:

    The project will last 12 days, including travel.  Here is an outline of the trip schedule:

    • Wednesday, July 2 - depart Denver for Brussels
    • Thursday, July 3 - arrive Brussels in the morning and connect to the next flight to Kigali, Rwanda; arrive Kigali in the evening
    • Friday, July 4 - tour Kigali and visit genocide museum; afternoon transfer by car to Ruhengeri (to see the gorillas) or to Mugonero Hospital
    • Saturday, July 5 - visit the mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park or rest at Mugonero Hospital
    • Sunday, July 6 - transfer to Mugonero Hospital
    • Monday to Friday, July 7 - 11 - surgery at Mugonero Hospital and projects at L'Esperance orphanage
    • Friday, July 11 - transfer to Moriah Hill Resort on Lake Kivu
    • Saturday, July 12 - transfer to Kigali; evening flight to Brussels
    • Sunday, July 13 - arrive Brussels, connect to flight back to Denver

    At this point, the trip will cost about $900 per person (including lodging based on double occupancy, meals, local transportation, and emergency medical insurance) plus airfare. The biggest cost is airfare, and that can vary between $2,400 and $2,600 depending on when the ticket is booked.

    For those interested, here are several optional tourist excursions:

    • Gorilla safaris in Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans (one or two days). For more information visit Rwanda Tourism website.
      The cost of the gorilla safari at this point is $350 for transportation, lodging, and food. The permit to hike in to see the gorillas is $750 per person, and permits will need to be purchased and paid for by January 2014.
    • Safaris in Kenya's national parks. One of the more famous is Masai Mara. For more information visit the Magical Kenya website.
    Spending money should be brought for any souvenirs, personal items, or additional snacks that are desired. Tips for local porters or other service providers are greatly appreciated and can provide important financial assistance to needy individuals. An easy recommendation is to bring one-dollar bills that can be used for tips. Additional sightseeing activities organized at the end of the mission project are not included in the project cost. If there is an additional baggage charge for two bags, this cost will be added to the airfare cost for each participant.
    The sponsors for these international medical mission projects, Avista, Castle Rock, Littleton, Parker, and Porter Adventist Hospitals, are also providing financial assistance to their associates who need support in order to participate in these projects. Fifty percent of the travel expenses for the mission project is available to associates on a first-come/first-served basis. A $100 credit for immunizations is also provided. Only a limited number of sponsorships are available.
    The IRS allows you to claim a charitable contribution deduction for your personal travel expenses (including airfare, lodging, meals, and local transportation) for these international medical mission projects. Any additional expenses for optional sightseeing cannot be deducted.

    A valid passport is required for entry into Rwanda. Be sure your passport does not expire within six months of returning to the U.S. If you travel to Kenya after the mission week, Kenya requires a visa which costs $50 and is available at the airport in Nairobi.

    In case of emergency, a copy of each participant's passport is kept at the Centura Health administrative office during the length of the trip. It is also highly recommended that each participant carry a photocopy of his or her passport on the trip.

    Lodging and meals for the entire mission project are included in the trip costs. We will be staying at guesthouses at Mugonero Hospital. The rooms have two or three beds each, are clean, and most have private bathrooms.

    Meals are also provided and will be eaten at the hospital. In honor of our sponsors' health principles, no alcohol will be served during meals that are provided. Alcohol is not permitted on the hospital campus or in the guest houses.

    Emergency medical evacuation insurance is provided for each participant of the trip. However, the insurance policy provided does not include cancellation coverage. Participants who wish to have this type of insurance are responsible to purchase their own trip cancellation insurance.

    participation in medical mission projects can expose participants to illness, accidents, or other dangerous situations. It is the responsibility of each participant to have adequate life, health, or other insurance that is necessary for the trip.

    Participants in the mission projects are volunteers and as such are required to sign a waiver and release form which verifies Centura Health, its hospitals, and/or the Rocky Mountain Healthcare Foundation are not responsible for any injuries, loss, and/or damage to personal property that may occur during this mission project or tourist excursions. If there is an additional baggage charge for two bags, this cost will be added to the airfare cost for each participant.

    Several vaccinations are recommended for travel to Rwanda:

    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • Typhoid
    • Yellow Fever
    • Routine Immunizations: tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and varicella

    You will also need to take medication for malaria. For this length of trip, Malarone may be a good recommendation.

    A couple of good travel health websites for reference are:

    Rwanda has made impressive progress in establishing a safe and stable environment since the horrific genocide in 1994. Since then, the national government has been working hard to prevent any future human disasters from occurring. Government leaders are some of the most honest in Africa, and visitors to Rwanda should have no problems in touring the country. As in any foreign country, however, care should be taken to avoid pickpockets.

    For international travel safety, visit the US Passport & International Travel website.

    The climate at Mugonero is relatively mild. The elevation is around 1500 meters (4500 feet). Buildings, however, are not well heated. Warmer clothing, especially at night, is recommended. It is best to layer clothes.

    As health care professionals and as representatives of Centura Health, dress and decorum should be appropriate. Further details about dress and decorum can be obtained from the Project Director.

    International airlines allow for 50 lbs. per bag of checked luggage. Flights within Africa, however, have a maximum of 20 kg. (44 lbs). A small carry-on is allowed. Normally, you can check two bags. We recommend that one bag be filled with medical supplies; the second will be for your clothing and personal items.

    One of the most well-known accounts of the genocide in Rwanda is the book "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda" by Philip Gourevitch . This book includes some information about Mugonero Hospital.

    Immaculee Ilibagiza writes of the dramatic story of how she survived the genocide by hiding in a Hutu pastor's tiny bathroom with seven women for 91 days. The story takes place near Kibuye, which is the main city near Mugonero.

    Bishop John, a frequent visitor to Colorado, tells his story about the recent history of Rwanda as written by Thomas Nelson. He provides more insight into the Christian church's role in the genocide and how forgiveness can be found in the most desperate situations.

    Rosamund Carr provides an informative look into an ex-patriot's life in Rwanda. Her love of the country and it's people is heartwarming, and her description of how the country has evolved from colonialism to independence and the to genocide is very informative.

    To learn more about Rwanda, visit the following websites:

    Several films have been produced about the genocide, including:

    • Sometimes in April
    • Hotel Rwanda
    • Ghosts of Rwanda.

    For stories about individuals who have made an impact in the world, the following books are also good reads: 

    • "Mountains Beyond Mountains", the story of Dr. Paul Farmer's work in Haiti, Peru, Russia, and the WHO
    • "Three Cups of Tea", the story of Greg Mortenson and his work to establish schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan
    • "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World", the story of John Wood, founder of "Room to Read."
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