“Hi, Hi, Hi”…“Hi” was the one English word that little two-year-old Susanne, an orphan in Rwanda, knew. Although her life was hard – abandoned as an infant and stricken with a life-threatening illness – Susanne had a spirit of strength and friendliness. Her expressions of joy and affection in her troubled and difficult life were reflected when meeting new people with open and wildly waving arms (see below).

Volunteering in Rwanda gave Paula an opportunity to challenge herself to new and sometimes demanding situations. Rwanda, a country rebuilding from the ashes of a genocide that killed approximately 1 million people, desperately needed medical support, training, and infrastructure. This is where GHI and its volunteer teams of doctors, nurses, and support personnel stepped in to help provide services to the many underserved people of Rwanda – including little Susanne.

Global Health Initiatives (GHI) strives to develop sustainable programs in countries such as Rwanda. In a country with fewer than ten orthopedic surgeons to treat over 10 million people, GHI has chosen to focus on orthopedic problems in multiple ways. First, GHI sends teams of orthopedic surgeons to carry out surgeries at Mugonero Hospital, located on the shores of Lake Kivu about 4 hours from the capital of Kigali. Second, GHI provides funding and support for training physicians, nurses and physical therapists in the Ponseti serial casting method for clubfoot correction. To date, over 50 clinicians from over 20 clinics across Rwanda have been trained in the technique.

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