Mwiriwe neza from Rwanda!!

I’ve been in Rwanda for a week now, trying to find the time, my voice and my nerve to write my first-ever blog. So, here it goes!! The crazy-hectic, emotionally-charged, scary, anxiety-ridden weeks leading up to my departure are behind me now. At times it felt like June 16th would never come and I have to give my deepest thanks to my family, friends and colleagues who cheered me on, held my hand through it all, and gave me a grand send-off.

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I especially want to thank my husband, Carlton, who was excited about the opportunity from its very first mention. Everyone asked “What about your husband!?!?” Well, he already booked his ticket to visit and our friends have promised to look after him — even though he is quite self-sufficient! To everyone, thank you, thank you, thank you!!

A little bit about how I got here: Through GSK’s skills-based volunteer program, PULSE, I was matched with Partners-in-Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB) in Rwanda for a six-month assignment. The short version of PIH’s mission statement (www.pih.org) is: “We go. We make house calls. We build health systems. We stay.” My specific assignment is still being scoped, but will largely focus on strategic HR planning related to talent acquisition, retention and management.

 

Now, my first thoughts of Rwanda: The country is future-focused, remarkably clean and exceptionally beautiful!! On our first day, we (PULSE volunteers) were warmly welcomed by our Rwanda-based colleague and made to feel part of the GSK family here. On day two in Kigali, I visited the Genocide Memorial — a reminder of a tragic and horrific part of Rwanda’s history that I wanted to know more about. It’s incredible to think how far this country and its people have come in such a short time.

My introduction to PIH has been a whirlwind! It’s an extraordinary organization with talented, passionate people. This week my time was split between Kigali and two rural districts, each a couple of hours away. I’ve visited the homes of some of the poorest Rwandans. I had a chance to hear the Minister of Health speak. I was inspired by her demand for innovation, commitment, and laser focus on building Rwandan capabilities for now and the future. PIH/IMB is a true partner in that vision. I read about Rwanda and talked to people who’d been to this country, but it’s never quite like the first-hand experience of being here!

 

I am excited about what lies ahead. . .stay tuned . . .

 

46 comments

    1. Thank you Sherrie, I hope you are well and the prep for your new life is going smoothly!! Maybe you’ll consider blogging about your journey :). Do you have “what’s app”? If you get it, we can text easily at no charge. Cheers! Robin

  1. Hi Robin: Wow! Your pictures took me right back there! So glad you are off to a running start. Can’t wait to compare notes. Best luck.

    1. Thank you Jim. You were so right about how beautiful it is. I keep trying to capture the beauty on my camera (phone), but the photos don’t seem to do it justice!! I’ll keep trying. Thank you so much for your help with my transition. Cheers.

  2. Great first blog, Robin!! Through your words and pictures, I really get a sense of the emotions you’re feeling and the picturesque setting you’ve observed so far. Enjoy these first days and I look forward to following your next blogs! All the best!

  3. Well I got a Facebook email (I don’t do much FB anymore) and saw your post! I didn’t expect to see you in Rwanda! How exciting! Be well, be safe and God Bless you my friend! I anxiously await reading about your journey. Great blog so far! Amazing pictures!

    1. Thanks Jeannette, Great to hear from you. I also don’t get on Facebook very much. But I will use it more to share my adventure. Cheers, Robin

  4. Robin this is great for your 1st blog. Keep it up so we can stay up to speed with you. Love you lady……Uncle Al

  5. Hey Robin

    Great to read your blog. You have taken me back to this time last year when I was starting out in Kigali. You have captured the emotional past and amazing progress in the last 20 years. And indeed, the cleanliness; which will hit home if you manage to visit any of the neighbouring countries.

    Enjoy your stay and assignment with PiH. Give me a shout if you need anything.

  6. Hello Robin,

    Thank you for sharing your first ever blog. I look forward to sharing in your Rwanda experience from the Navy Yard. Best of luck and communicate often!

    Harry

  7. Loved reading your first blog!! Can’t believe it’s your first one, you write so well, I felt I was there with you : ) Looking forward to reading more and I’m feeling very inspired by you as I sit in the office on a Monday morning.

  8. Hi Robin,

    This is such an awesome first blog, and I can’t wait to get the next one! Thank you for sharing pictures of the beautiful landscape of Rwanda. I am sure that you will be blessed throughout this experience and for sure serve as a blessing to many others while there. Thank you and continue to stay in touch as much as you can.

  9. Robin,
    Loved reading your first blog! Can’t wait to hear more about your experience in Rwanda!

    Adrienne

  10. Great update Robin! I am sure the view looks slightly different than our Navy Yard home! Wish you the best of luck & cant wait to follow your adventure!

  11. Hi Robin, We are very proud of your representation and assistance to our ancestral continent! Shared the news with some friends and they also send their best. Hope to be able to give you more encouragement — in person!

    Love and affection,
    B, S and T

  12. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I’m predicting that you’ll write a book and it will be a best seller and listed on Oprah’s book club. Looking forward to reading more about your experiences. Take care.

  13. Hi Robin, I’m happy to hear you arrived safely, I’m really excited for you! I had a chance to hear the Minister speak back in 2014, I was also inspired by her commitment and dedication to improving Rwanda healthcare by building Rwandan capabilities. If you have a chance (and you like burgers or fish and chips) you should try Mr. Chips in Kimihurura and the Mamba club right across the street if you want to practice your bowling skills, it’s a great experience and the only bowling in all of Rwanda! Take care, Desmond

  14. Robin, this is so exciting for someone thousands of miles away. I’m enjoying your blog. Keep it coming! Would love to see pictures of some of your colleagues there too. xoxo

  15. Hi Robin,
    I’m very very very happy to hear you got to Rwanda safely and are beginning to enjoy the country and your assignment. As my coach when I embarked on my own assignment 3 years ago, I’ll surely be following your journey and learn as much as I can from your experiences in Rwanda. I wish you the very best!, Kirby

  16. Terrific blog Robin- you are a natural blogger! THANK YOU for taking the time to share your experience. As I began to read I felt a great sense of hope-really appreciated your perspective on how Rwanda has progressed since the genocide. Looking forward to hearing about the good work that you will be participating in.

  17. What a wonderful first blog, Robin! Thanks so much for sharing such thoughtful reflections and vivid imagery – it’s wonderful to see you in your new natural habitat 🙂 I also see that I’m late to this party, as I can’t believe how many comments your blog has generated?! You’ve got a big village of supporters behind you – look forward to continuing to follow your adventures! Wishing you all the best!

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