New Pediatric Building

By Alyssa 

I am so excited to report that our new pediatric building is open!!!! 130 beds, 3 stories tall - all designed and constructed specifically for the children of Burundi! Son Excellence, the President of the Republic of Burundi himself came on November 17 to inaugurate the new building as part of his Caravan of the Torch of Peace. The patients and peds staff are so happy with their beautiful new building, and I love seeing the children sharing meals together in the grassy courtyard or playing in the playroom or just calmly resting and recovering in clean, bright, well-ventilated wards. And no one has to share a bed or sleep on the floor anymore! 
Welcome sign and archway for the President

Meeting the President on the red carpet

Officially opening the pediatric building 

Team docs and engineer with the US Ambassador to Burundi

Hospital playroom 

Neonatology resuscitation and phototherapy 

Patients in the new building

Patients sharing food - meals are always a communal event in Burundian culture. The patients love this grassy area behind the building. 

During my speech here to the hospital staff and community leaders, I mostly talked about our vision for the pediatric service at Kibuye:
Our vision is to welcome children, families, staff, and students to the Kibuye Hope Hospital pediatric service as Jesus welcomes us; to provide competent, compassionate care; and to make the most of every opportunity to train the next generation of healthcare workers. 

I shared Matthew 19:13-15 where Jesus blesses the little children and I talked about the riches of God's compassion in Ephesians 2 and how we likewise want to welcome children and show them compassion. I also talked about my own experience as a pediatric patient at age 10 when I was paralyzed and in an intensive care unit with an illness called Transverse Myelitis. I talked about how I remember the healthcare workers who showed me compassion during my 2 years of recovery as I relearned how to walk. I'm so thankful to God for healing me, but I'm also thankful for how He used that experience in my life to stir my interest in becoming a pediatrician in order to care for other children like me - hopefully with compassion and competence! And finally I talked about the importance of lifelong learning as we all seek to improve in our understanding of medicine and as we teach students and even patients and parents on the three pediatric sub-services of neonatology, inpatient malnutrition, and general pediatrics. 

It's been a long journey in coming to the inauguration of this building. Four years ago, the fundraising process began with this video and blog post. Watch the short video for great footage of what the peds service looked like before! 

Ultimately over 100 people gave generously to enable this project to go forward. Because of their generosity, we were actually able to adapt the plans to include a third level so that we would have space for all the pediatric patients including neonatology. The nonprofit eMi sent multiple teams of engineers, architects, and others to design and oversee construction. We're especially thankful for Andy Bradshaw and Mathieu Lembelembe who joined our team for many months to oversee this enormous project - the first three-story building at Kibuye. 

eMi design team with hospital staff on the building site

Video of early construction

Pediatric staff on the ground floor in the middle of the construction process 

Andy Bradshaw and Mathieu Lembelembe with Serge Kibuye team touring the building before the roof was on 

Team touring the top floor near the end of construction 

So thankful for all these construction workers! 

And now the patients are all in the new building! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 

Two happy pediatricians! 


Don't Quit Your Day Job

By Michael

 One thing you quickly learn when you arrive in Kibuye is that your weird, quirky, or sometimes esoteric interests might serve a real and tangible need.  For me, I've always been a technology enthusiast and something of a computer nerd.  In the days since Eric wrote about how internet is the hardest part of his job, the ever talented George Watts took the helm of managing the team connection.  When we arrived and settled in back in January 2020 that torch was passed onto me.  

The interesting thing about our connection at Kibuye is that while you might be tempted to think of it as hooking up the wifi in your home it's much more like running a small internet service provider, you know minus the staff, billing services, or technical support...  And with that I'd like to officially christen 

KNIT SP - Kibuye Neighborhood Internet and Technology Service Provider : where we weave communication into the fabric of your daily life. (An unofficial sub-company of Serge)

But to show you what I mean take a look at our network diagram as it currently stands:

For orientation that little cloud in the top left is the internet which then comes into our router and winds up being distributed from there through a series of wired and wireless connections to the homes around our compound.  Getting to this point has been quite the journey.  

The first big batch of equipment arrived back in January 2021.  With that, the intrepid Watts family helped move our main distribution antenna into the belfry of Kibuye Hope Academy.  

The fisheye lens may exaggerate the height a little bit, but that's really high, and that pole/antenna is not light!

Once the main distribution antenna was up, some 3d printed brackets for the receivers to be mounted to everyone's homes allowed us to get the best possible signal and we gradually transitioned everyone over from the hodgepodge of connections to a central wireless distribution point.  But rather than just give every home their own wifi, all of the wifi points across the compound are interconnected and make up one large network.  Now we can roam from home to home and even a few places outside without ever losing connection or having to enter different passwords along the way.  

Being an ISP means dealing with outages...  Including discovering this while investigating a post storm outage:

A falling branch had severed the fiberoptic line going to our little network rack.  Fortunately Lumitel was incredibly responsive.  After sending the above photos to the Lumitel Whatsapp help group around 7pm they sent a two man repair team the next day and less than 24hrs later our connection was back up and running.

While one man was responsible for splicing the cable another gentlemen climbed straight up the eucalyptus tree to drape the new line through our all natural telephone poles.  (Side note, that little machine is so cool!  It perfectly lines up the two tiny fibers of glass and then melts them together to make a single contiguous fiber!)  The two bottles in the background were actually used to protect the freshly spliced cable.  

Our network rack has also undergone an upgrade, complete with kitenge dust covers and it now houses enough battery power to keep the signal up and running through most of an overnight power outage.  

So while my day job is still going up to the hospital to take care of surgical patients, God has seen fit to use some of the other talents and interests He gave me in the service of the work He's accomplishing here in Kibuye.

And to finish up here's a preview of the next big IT project, setting up the hospital network as foundational work for the digitalization of patient care: turns out the electronic health record haunts you no matter where you go!


 (by Krista)

If you're a three year old TCK in Burundi, your life is pretty great. 

Please enjoy this snapshot into the life of our three year old - through one second a day. 



By Ted

Last week, I (along with Michael and Jason) had the chance to attend a surgery conference in Bujumbura, organized by the Burundian Surgery Association (ABUC). It was the 15th annual general meeting and scientific conference, and this year’s theme was trauma. Over the course of 2 days, various presenters shared their latest research in an atmosphere of professional collegiality and collaboration. Jason gave a presentation on the current cleft lip and palate program at our hospital. I was also mentioned as a collaborator for a study that presented data from one of my former medical students’ theses (regarding retrograde intra-medullary nailing of middle and distal third closed femoral fractures). Additionally, I find that I learn a lot about what’s going on at other hospitals in Burundi and get a broader picture of our hospital in relation to the others.

ABUC was started in 2007, at which point in time it was estimated that there were only 20 surgeons in all of Burundi for a population of 8 million people. Nearly 15 years later, there is an estimated 35 surgeons (now for a population of 12 million), including the five of us at Kibuye (Jason, Michael, Lijalem, Ben, myself) as well as 2 other PAACS graduates (one in Karusi, one in Bujumbura).

As you can see in the photo below, there were quite a few participants at this year’s conference, significantly more than the last time I had attended a few years ago. The participants include a variety of health professional students, physicians, surgeons, and other interested individuals. It’s incredible to see such growth in the conference, but I am similarly excited to see the growth of ABUC as an organization, which reflects recent increases in the number of new surgeons in Burundi (including 4 urologists!), many of whom completed their residency training outside the country.

Beyond the academic aspects of the conference, there is also a meaningful social piece. The conference affords opportunities to meet and talk with other surgeons in Burundi (with whom I don’t have regular opportunities to interact since I live and work at Kibuye). I also ran into former HAU medical students, who have since graduated and are now working as doctors. I even ran into a current HAU anesthetist student, who had just completed a rotation at Kibuye last month. My favorite part was the special evening social event, where we were able to chat with other surgeon colleagues over scrumptious appetizers like chicken kabobs and samosas.

PAACS grad Alliance Niyukuri and me at the 2018 conference (where we first met)

I’m grateful for our surgeon colleagues in Burundi and for the shared desire to see the quality of and access to surgical care improve throughout the country. I look forward to continued collaboration and future exchanges between our hospital and others, especially after our PAACS surgery residency program is approved and underway.