Health Builders’ first virtual event, Coping in Crisis, was a great success! More than 125 people joined the live Zoom webinar to learn more about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the recovery and resiliency of the people of Rwanda in the aftermath, and the role Health Builders plays in rebuilding the healthcare system.
With Susan Ormiston from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interviewing guests Carl Wilkens, Michel Musilikare, and Immaculate Kyarisiima, the hour-long conversation flew by, but not without a hitch.
Unbeknownst to anyone and just as the program began, Michel and Immaculate, Health Builders’ leadership staff based in Rwanda, lost power in their respective homes from where they were broadcasting. It was around midnight Rwandan time and they were left in total darkness. Luckily, Carl Wilkens was being interviewed first, and by the time it was his turn to be spotlighted, Michel had re-established a light source with a rechargeable lamp he had only bought that same day.
Immaculate reacted quickly as well, holding her cell phone with her flashlight turned on to produce enough light for the duration of her interview. No one, including the volunteers and staff who were helping produce the session behind the scenes, was aware until after the event that Michel and Immaculate had those few minutes of panic and quick thinking.
It did not surprise anyone though. Michel and Immaculate have been leading Health Builders with steady and calm hands for years. Their ability to be flexible, to adjust, to rise to the challenge has been a huge asset to Health Builders. Their guidance, knowledge, and determination has helped the Rwandan team maneuver many roadblocks as they carry out Health Builders’ mission.
The most difficult challenge has been, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. This halted much of the travel to health centers in rural Rwanda and left the staff pivoting to ensure that their momentum was not lost during the shutdowns. Phone calls, virtual meetings, and text messages took the place of in-person interactions, but the staff adjusted and made accommodations so the Health Builders programs could continue. Being a part of the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team ensured they returned quickly to the health centers.
That resiliency of the Rwandan people was amplified during the Coping in Crisis event and was reaffirmed in Michel and Immaculate’s determination that the show would go on, despite the lack of power. And it is also seen every day as they rise to new challenges with determination, leading the Health Builders team to achieve our mission.
If you have not already, please watch the Coping in Crisis event here and learn more about Rwanda, its people, and the incredible difference Health Builders makes, despite the obstacles, in the most vulnerable rural communities.