In April, a team of 16 medical specialists and 11 Rotary volunteers from District 3080 left India on a medical mission to Rwanda.
During a 12-day period, our team performed 210 procedures on patients selected in advance by doctors at the hospital in Kigali, the nation’s capital. The team of surgeons removed a gallbladder tumor, performed hip replacements, worked to repair throat and nasal passages, treated gallstones, and even performed facial surgery on a survivor of the 1994 genocide who had been struck by a machete.
As we arrived at the airport, we were greeted by a large number of journalists, who wanted to know the value of the medical services we would be providing. Past RI President Rajendra K. Saboo put it best, noting — how do you put a dollar value on the time these distinguished professionals, experts in their field, agree to forgo from their private practices to serve under the Rotary banner? How do you measure the value of the time donated by the business leaders, who also pay their own way in airfare and lodging to provide support and make the mission a success?
The best description: it was the quintessential Service Above Self.
Mission Rwanda: Reach Out to Africa was an extension of Saboo’s idea of sending teams of medical specialists to various countries, which have in the past included Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo, and Zambia with the help of grants from The Rotary Foundation.
District Governor Manpreet Singh Gandhoke and Past Governor Rajindar Singh Parmar led the team. They built upon several months of preparation by project coordinator Ranjit K. Bhatia, a past governor; Fred ne Tiabu Tatukila, governor of District 9150 (Rwanda); and Dr. Theobald Hategekimana, director general of the teaching hospital at Kigali.
During the medical mission, the team also took time to visit the memorial to the 1994 genocide. It was a moving experience, and a reminder of the need to work for peace. While in Rwanda, our team found a forward-looking nation of friendly people and clean roads. They have moved on from the tragic events in their past to work on a better future.