I took care of the essentials after my first day at work here: a pedicure and a heavenly massage after a productive day at work, meeting the team, finalizing the agenda, studying the agreement with USAID and learning about the contractual requirements that we have to fulfill in the next 5 years.

I had heard about the Rwandan transformation (since I was last here). As a graph it would look like a deep dive into the netherworld and then a more or less straight line up.  Here are the things that I noticed as I traversed the city twice today:

  • The sidewalks are even, clean, and devoid of weeds with on and off ramps. The maintenance is outsourced.
  • All motorbike riders (taxis and privates) wear helmets; the motor bike taxis carry a helmet for their passengers. Not doing so will cost you dearly.
  • Everyone has their seatbelts on, not doing so will cost you.
  • The roads (I am told) to the provinces are as good as the ones in Kigali.
  • Speed limits are checked. If you speed you pay.
  • Cars generally look in good shape, not like the ones (taxis especially) I have taken in other countries in Africa that look like they hold together with wire, duct tape and gum, with questionable brakes and missing essential car upholstery.

It shows what is possible, and could be achieved in the surrounding countries, if the leadership thinks such public health measures are important. They certainly will have reduced the cost of caring for trauma patients or losing productive members of society to preventable traffic accidents.  I am sure I will learn about other public health measures that this country has taken to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.

My two colleagues have arrived from DC and tomorrow we will drive to Gisenyi  to start our retreat.

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January 2015
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