Two months milestone!

This past month has been mainly about visiting the District Pharmacies (small warehouses from which medicines are distributed to hospitals, health centers, health posts and other dispensing care facilities) in the country. It is amazing how much I have learned about the constraints and challenges encountered by these facilities. And they still manage to distribute the needed medicines every month. Right now it is the rainy season, making some dirt roads very difficult. The truck drivers are doing hard and long working hours to get to remote areas in this country called the Land of the Thousand Hills. Indeed, I have not found yet a flat land in my two months here. It is all hills and most of them with terrace farming. It makes the landscape beautiful.

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As I have been requested to look at the entire public supply chain for medicine, we dived into not only logistics aspects but also procurement, finance, human resources and more. The link is now made between the main central warehouse and these district pharmacies. Next steps are the third level of the distribution network. I will also have the opportunity to interview some international partners which will complete the global view. I will soon start drafting a detailed report with recommendations.

In parallel, working at the central level, we agreed to prioritize distribution process simplification and development of a robust costing model. The project is starting to take shape.

Meanwhile, I continue to discover this beautiful country over the weekends. My trip to the Volcanoes National Park (VNP) was a unique and magical experience. The park is located in the Virunga Mountains bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Bisoke, Karisimbi, and Sabyinyo, among other volcanoes make the Virunga Mountains. Dian Fossey’s Karisoke research center (between Bisoke and Karisimbi), where she studied the mountain gorillas and where the movie “Gorillas in the mist” was made, is located there and can be visited.

Last saturday we tracked the Golden Monkeys, an endangered species living only in the bamboo forest in VNP between Rwanda, DRC and Uganda. They do not always cooperate with visitors but we were really lucky. We saw dozens of them. Their fur has a beautiful color, between brown and orange.

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The landscape in this region is breathtaking. The elegance of the Virunga Mountains, the lakes Bulera and Ruhondo with so many small islands … and of course the thousand hills linking the whole space together. I enjoyed this peaceful environment perfect for strong self-reflection.

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Sunday was mountain gorilla tracking. I will never forget this day, first because of the strenuous walk in the Karisimbi to reach the Susa gorillas and second because of the magical moment, although scary at times.

We climbed for 5 hours, 1000m elevation, to reach the gorillas, through terrace culture, bamboo forest, and dense mountain vegetation. As we were tracking, our guide made the path with a machete. Not to mention it was not easy to stay balanced in the wet, dense vegetation, at 3400m altitude.

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And suddenly was the fantastic reward … a one month old baby gorilla!

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Then we became surrounded by gorillas, some easily visible and some behind leaves we could see moving. The Susa family was the first studied by Dian Fossey and used for the movie. It is the largest of the eight families in the park with 38 members including three silverback adult males. We spent one hour with them. It was such an intense, scary and magical experience! I enjoyed every minute of my time here.

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With Christmas approaching, I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season!

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