Student goes to Rwanda and discovers rewards as health care associate
Editor’s note: The Ungana Foundation, a social and economic development organization, was created by alumni of USU. Dave Kuwada has applied his business skills to search for ways to better meet the health care needs of the people he serves. He sent this update from Rwanda in the summer of 2009.
By Dave Kuwada, ’09, majored in finance and economics with minors in psychology and international business.
I’ve had opportunities to do things in Rwanda that I could have never done in the United States. The rewards have been great as I’ve come to know these people and their culture. I’ve been motivated to help as I’ve learned of their needs and worked with them to find solutions that can improve the lives of many people.
As the health care associate for the Ungana Foundation, I have been establishing relationships with universities, hospitals, clinics, ministries, doctors, professors and others in the health care community. I’ve been setting up programs, some of which were launched in summer 2009 and some that will begin in 2010.
I’m now establishing partnerships between Ungana and various groups to help them find ways to get more medical supplies to Rwanda. Our group took a tour of several hospitals and clinics, and we saw the worn-out and out-dated equipment being used in these centers. I have investigated the possibilities of moving used medical equipment to more needy facilities. The lack of equipment limits the number of people who can be helped. I have been meeting with Rotary clubs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and I have contacted people I know in the United States to find ways to get the needed supplies and equipment to the people here.
I set up a program with the hospital in Gisenyi, Rwanda, that will begin summer 2010 called the Medical Student Volunteer Program (MSVP). I am working with medical students from the University of Southern California who will come to Gisenyi to do rounds with local doctors. This program will help doctors in the area learn about the latest techniques coming out of academia, offer U.S. students more hands-on experience and help the hospital with its heavy patient loads. I am reaching out to as many medical schools in the United States as I can in hopes of making the MSVP a national program. I have also been in Goma in the Democratic Republic the Congo, working with the University of Goma’s medical school and have set up a conference for maternity staff and OB/GYN nurses to attend.
People here are willing to give me the chance to prove myself, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I have been able to help the other associates with their projects as well. I have met so many great people. Even though we have run into some obstacles, we have been able to work hard and get things accomplished. I have such high hopes for this organization, and I really believe we can get the word out about the needs of these people.