A Creative Take on Passports

This year I have the privilege of teaching eighth grade for the first time, with two students who I had in class last year in 7th grade. These two are bright, kind, thoughtful, witty AND have had their feet in more countries in thirteen years than most people do in a lifetime. Their passports are well worn and full of stamps. One of my favorite occurrences in our classroom is when we are reading a novel or discussing a history topic and one of them pipes up with a big smile and says “I’ve been there!!”
Though there are many complexities in the life of a third culture kid, one that seems to come up often is the country of residence versus passport country conversation. In History this year we are tackling American Government, and that brings up the conversation of identity, what it means to have an American passport but having not spent significant time living on the continent stamped in gold on their passport cover. As we discussed aspects of their lives that feel American, English being their native language, some awareness (if not affinity for) American football, a love of Disney+ and Chick-Fil-A nuggets, there are others that come up that make them feel distinctly not American, like the fact that they greet neighbors in three languages, they have sat through 5+ hour worship services in one of the two languages that is not their first, they receive groceries in a basket on their doorstep every week, and they don’t have a cell phone at the age of 13. They talk about the fact that they know they aren’t Burundian, but they don’t really feel all that American either.
So, our first project in History class this year was to create a passport that felt like it represented their personal experience. Though we laughed at the idea of handing in a paper booklet at the Bujumbura airport’s border control, they both jumped at the opportunity to create a passport that felt individual to them. They designed the cover with colors or logos or designs that they feel represent who they are, they filled the inside with Burundian fabric and printed out stamps from the places they have been and the places they want to go. This week we hung those projects on our wall, so that as we study American government and we lose sight of why we study our country’s history when we don’t live there, we can look at a visual representation of who we are, colorful and bright and multi-cultural, also with the reminder that our true citizenship is in the Kingdom of God not in any Earthly country or region or continent. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ“ Philippians 3:20


Kibuye Construction Update

 (By Caleb)

It seems like it has been a minute since I've posted anything regarding current construction efforts at Kibuye.   In addition to one larger construction project we are doing a lot in the way of shoring up the basic infrastructure of power, water, and internet.  So here is what's happening in my world: 

Student Center

Typically medical students at Hope Africa University spend their first three years in Bujumbura in the classroom.  They then move up to Kibuye for their next three years doing their clinical rotations in addition to taking various courses taught by Serge faculty and others.  Many of these students come from Bujumbura and find that life can be a bit slow up here in our rural setting.  

A few years ago, Matt Lembelembe (an eMi architect) was here filling in for me while my family was on home assignment.  He was asked to design a student center that would house three main functions: a cafeteria, a library, and a place to relax and hangout.  Matt came up with a wonderful design and thanks to funding from AMH we are a few short weeks away from completing the construction.   I have no doubt that the students will really enjoy this space for years to come.  

The library will be on the first level and an upper terrace will allow the students to take in the beautiful view of the Burundian countryside.  

The building has 3 levels.  On the right will be the hangout area with couches, pingpong, foosball, and other necessities.  The middle section will be where food will be served. And to the left will be the library and upper terrace.  

The middle section where the students will be served daily meals.    

Matt incorporated some interesting architectural features like the way the roof is hidden behind a parapet and the fun stone work at the ends of the building.  

Increasing Solar Power

As our facility has grown, so has our power demand.  With large donations from IMF, AMH, and Southwest Medical Clinic we are currently in the middle of a large power supply upgrade project.  Once again our friends at ITEC have graciously agreed to help us with the design and implementation.  Our solar field will more than double from 122kW to 284kW.  We will also upgrade our batteries from outdated lead-acid to the new Lithium Iron Phosphate technology.  It has been a logistical mind-bender as the pieces to this upgrade have had to come from all corners of the globe: panels and accessories from Pennsylvania, inverters from South Africa, and batteries from China.  

In preparation for the ITEC installation team coming in January of 2023, we have been busy with preparing the solar field.  15 of our strongest men literally moved a mountain to create the exact 10 degree slope to the north and the space to install these panels.  We are now building the structure which will support the new panels for decades to come.   

Our masons getting the alignment of one of the support legs just right.  

The future site of the expanded solar field.

A view from across the valley of the new solar site as well as the new pediatric building and maintenance area.  

Water Expansion

Similarly, as the hospital facility has expanded our water demand has increased significantly.  We are currently in a the midst of a project to increase both the quantity and the quality of our water supply.  Land has been leveled and prepared for some large storage reservoirs which we will begin constructing this month.  We have installed hundreds of meters of new pipe to upgrade our water distribution and will also install a new ultraviolet disinfection system.   

The site of the new water reservoirs leveled and cleared and ready for construction.  

Network Expansion

In addition to being an amazing surgeon, Michael Harling also has a keen self-taught understanding of networking.  He, along with the hospital's two IT technicians, has taken on the project of expanding a stable network across the hospital campus.  This has involved a lot of hot and dirty work like climbing through small attic spaces.  As one can imagine, these efforts will be greatly appreciated by our medical and nursing students as so many essential resources for education and research are available online.   

Micheal and his eager assistants.  


Teaching Pediatrics To Interns in 3 Months: A "How-To" guide

(by Jenn)

Spoiler Alert! It's impossible to teach all of Pediatrics in 3 months.  Thie blog post is more of a recounting of how I have ATTEMPTED to achieve this difficult challenge.

Many of you have probably heard of the "Stage Professionnelle" program that we offer at Kibuye Hope Hospital, a 12-month long rotating internship for doctors who have graduated medical school who want more training before heading off to practice medicine. They spend 3 months each on Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Surgery, and OBGYN afterwhich they receive a certificate of completion.  So during these 3 months on Pediatrics, we try to teach them as much as we can... this is how we have attempted to do it...

Alyssa had already started a curucilum based on a book "Blueprints" which is a guid for basic pediatric ideas. It's usually used by medical students on their Pediatric rotation in the United States, but thoguht it woudl be a good base for doctors here, as there was a short period of time to learn things.  The goal was to cover one chapter a week. 

Then I arrived in 2019 and was asked to be / volunteered to be (becasue it sounded fun!)  heavily involved in the education of these interns.  Here are the "steps" I've gone through in morphing this curriculum which is still in flux! 
  • As one about to teach Pediatrics in Burundi, I took everything I ever learned in my Peds training and put it into a context of a developing country with low resources with diseases not commonly found in the United States.
  • I started making powerpoints that fit the needs of what I needed to teach each week. 
  • Little by little, I translated powerpoints into French. (because honestly my medical French was not that great. "Blueprints" is in English, and I needed to know how to say many of these things in our "work language" - French.) 
  • I gave a 1-hour lecture per week for 3 months on 12 important Pediatric topics.  
  • After giving lectures for a few months, I realized that maybe I added too much of what I shouldn't have (minutiae regarding specialty labs, MRIs, etc which are difficult to find in our context), and not enough of what I should have (more on physical exam, treatments that are available here, etc). 
  • Re-vamped lectures. 
  • I gave these lectures weekly over 2 years during our first term.  I made small adjustments after each lecture, trying to taylor the learning time to fit the needs of the learners. I added in French articles from time to time on difficult subjects. 
We ask for feedback from our interns after they ahve completed the rotation and one time someone said they wished there were more clinical scenarios accompanied by questions about treatment so they could learn what to do practically. 

My residency program director in Greenville, SC noticed a long time ago that our pediatric board pass rate was not great for our graduates. She created a ciruculum where we would study a chapter or two in our huge Peds textbook, would have 50 take-home questions that we would have to answer and turn in, and also would have daily lecutres for one month pertaining to the subject for the month. 

This commentary and feedback from the intern along with the curriculum that I went through during my 3-year pediatric residency made a lightbulb go off in my head.  What if I try to do something similar with the interns here!?

Now, along with continuously altering my teaching style, powerpoints, and material, I am starting to write questions (and then translating them into French) that are relevant to our context but also teaches them things that they may need to know if they ever do a pediatric residency in another country.  I'm hoping that this will increase their willingness to study/look for answers and ultimately improve the care provided to children in Burundi. 

I love this part of my job and consider it a priviledge to teach these docs.  Now, back to writing questions and translating them ◡̈