Friday, May 22, 2015
Muraho bose! I’m reviving my Peace Corps blog to bring you more stories from Rwanda. As of my last post, I had just returned home to California. I had begun studying for the GRE and initiated the long process of cultural reintegration. I remember feeling good, if a little unsteady.
A lot has happened since then. Two jobs, one volunteering stint with Planned Parenthood, six master’s program applications, five acceptances and one year of grad school later, I have returned to Rwanda to begin a summer internship with the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group (an awesome organization – read more about them here). I will be conducting research to improve the provision of long-acting reversible contraceptives to couples who do not want more children, or who want to wait at least three years to have more children. In a country as densely populated as Rwanda – to the extent that arable farmland here literally cannot produce enough food to support the existing population – modern contraceptives are extremely important. Long-acting reversible contraceptives are great because they’re effective even in the event of a supply chain interruption.* I’m so happy to be here. I’ve been hoping to do exactly this kind of work ever since I found a copy of Half the Sky lying around the Peace Corps office in Kigali. I never dreamt I’d end up returning to Rwanda for this, but here I am.
Nothing is ever quite as expected. I thought landing in Kigali would be an adrenaline rush, but something even more unsettling happened. When we touched down, I looked out the window and thought, “Oh good. I’m finally home.”
*Oral contraceptives and injectables, though popular in Rwanda, are less effective than long-term reversible contraceptives simply because they have to be used on a regular basis. If a clinic runs out of IUDs, the women currently using them won’t have any problems, but if a clinic runs out of birth control pills, it’s a whole different story.