Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nyangezi - Shilo Hospital

Nyangezi is a small country town about 15 miles south of Bukavu. A lush tropical paradise that abounds with gardens of cassaba, corn, beans, and banana, it seems far removed from busy city life to the north.

Life moves slowly here, much as it has done for centuries. Women and children carry water from the communal well, and laundry is still laid out to dry in the sun after being washed.

It is in this beautiful rural setting that Dr. Florimond Kabanda has chosen to build a hospital and health care center. He plans to treat the local population as well as women survivors of sexual violence and other victims of war.
Dr. Florimond checks the newly installed running water system.

The fully equiped Poll Health Center was completed in October 2007 and has the capacity to treat most of the area´s health care needs. Currently, it contains a laboratory, operating room, pharmacy, neonatal and acute trauma care facilities, a general ward and intensive care room.

Lab tech at work in the Poll Health Center.

Shilo Hospital is located a short walk from Poll Center and will be able to provide services for both short- and long-term patients. It will contain a general ward able to treat over 100 patients, private rooms for 20 people, a kitchen, and space for physical therapy and literacy training.

Here Dr. Florimnd stands in front of the private wing with its shiny new roof. It is scheduled for competion mid-July. Surrounding him is the hospital garden, which is already producing calabasa, yams, sweet potatoes, and pineapple.

Pineapple and sweet potato fill the hospital garden.

He plans to make the hospital a self-sustaining complex, producing much of its own food in the gardens, supplemented by pigs, rabbits, and beef, which will also be raised on the grounds. Already in 6 months, the pigs have had 3 litters and are bursting out of their pens.

A new litter of piggies are part of the hospital farm.

As idyllic as this setting may be, statistics collected by the Poll Center after 6 months in operation show that a startling 45% of their women patients have AIDS. This is because the area was occupied by rebel troops 5 years ago, and rape was rampant at that time. Additionally, two IDP camps (Internally Displaced Persons), where women are always at risk, were located nearby at a later date. Apparently, no private or government agency has come to this area since then to help the local population, so the AIDS patients have gone untreated.

Because this is the only medical health center within 25 miles offering help to this large rural population, Dr. Florimond has his work cut out for him.

With love and gratitude,

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