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Friday, May 22, 2015

Strange Homecoming

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.

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