Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rwanda's Medical Success & Parkin's Baking Cakes in Kigali

The other week I was thrilled to read some news about Rwanda that wasn't about the genocide. Apparently, the country is making great strides in medical treatment.

Here's the February New York Times article "Rwanda’s Health Care Success Story:"
In the less than two decades since the 1994 genocide that killed nearly a million Rwandans and displaced another two million, the country has become a spectacular public health success story and could provide a model for the rest of Africa, according to a new analysis by American health experts. 
In an article published last month by the British journal BMJ, Dr. Paul E. Farmer, a founder of Partners in Health, which delivers medical services in Rwanda and Haiti, totaled up the successes the tiny country has managed. In 1994, 78 percent of the population lived below the poverty line; now 45 percent do. The gross domestic product has more than trebled. Almost 99 percent of primary-school-age children go to school. With help from Western donors, the number of people getting treatment for AIDS rose to 108,000 from near zero a decade earlier.
There's also been good news regarding Rwandan women. Here's the March 15th Guardian article "Rwanda's first female pilot takes to the skies at 24:"
Esther Mbabazi was eight years old when her father was killed in a crash as the plane he was flying in overshot the runway landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So when, a few years later she announced her intention to train as a pilot, the plan was not well received by some of her family. 
But at the age of 24, Mbabazi has made history as the first female Rwandan pilot – although as a woman she says she doesn't make flight announcements because it scares the passengers... 
Mbabazi, who is fluent in five languages, trained at the Soroti flight school in Uganda before being sponsored to continue her training in Florida by national carrier Rwandair. She now flies the company's CRJ-900 regional jets across Africa.
For a novel set in 21st century Rwanda, try Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin:
Set in an international apartment complex in Rwanda, Parkin's appealing but overstuffed debut throws together university professors, U.N. employees and CIA agents among a panoply of traditions and cultures. Heroine Angel Tungararza has moved from Tanzania with her husband, Pius, who's taken a job at the local university; before long, she develops a reputation as a masterful baker and a sagacious friend. Though haunted by the deaths of her grown daughter and son, Angel plunges back into motherhood, caring for her five grandchildren, tending to Pius, baking cakes and dispensing advice. Meanwhile, the sour undercurrents of AIDS and genocide play quiet but instrumental parts in shaping Angel's world.

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