The following is another update from the Mayo Clinic team that was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week, written by Dr. Deborah Rhodes. While this is the final update from their trip, please check for additional posts next week including video interviews with some of the team describing their experiences.
"After a long drive through the beautiful countryside of Rwanda, in a fierce rainstorm that only made the hills more luminous, we reached Bujumbura. We said good-bye to our good friends and trusted drivers, Bercky and Benge, and boarded the plane. We were so anxious to see our families, but we were quieter than usual. We stared out at military forces boarding a neighboring plane and thought about how much more needs to be done.
Our flights were seamless, as has been our entire itinerary. For this, and for so many other things, we have Jane Gould to thank. Without her, we would still be trying to book our flights. She was our greatest defender from bureaucracy, our solver of any problem, and our most enthusiastic advocate when our own belief that this trip would happen wavered.
We have so many others to thank:
Jim Hodge, who initially said, “We can find a way to make this work."
Roger Dearth, who found a way to make it work. Roger kept us smiling when the chips were down. When we realized we needed to purchase additional pieces of critical cystoscopy equipment 2 days before our departure, Roger made them appear by the next morning.
Shirley David, from Carlson Wagonlitt, who answered hundreds of phone calls and coordinated our flights.
Terry Gorman, who connected us with Tom Griffin, who worked his magic to get 5 pallets of medical supplies to travel thousands of miles and arrive safely at a destination with no street address.
Mayo Medical Laboratories, for all the help they provided in delivering the pallets of medical supplies.
Leo Wagner and the staff at the Mayo Warehouse, for helping us to collect and pack the supplies.
Beth Creedon, for all of her help collecting and cataloguing the supplies.
Federal Express for their generosity and precision in delivering the pallets.
Rebecca Buss at Rochester Medical, for her generous donation of supplies.
Dr. C. R. Stanhope, who was instrumental in gathering many of the medical supplies and advising us on appropriate goals for an international medical mission.
Paula Boos, without whom our six boxes of medical supplies would never have made it on the plane.
The Stryker company for their generous donation of cystoscopy equipment.
The Stortz company for their donation of supplies.
Donna Springer and Etta Meinecke, for protecting us against all things infectious with innumerable vaccinations.
Stacey Rizza, for her outstanding lecture on HIV transmission and prophylaxis and for her donation of medications.
David Claypool and the team at Preferred Response, for providing us with safety advice and medications for any emergency (thankfully, we did not need the Imodium).
Mitch Nelson, for security advice in Burundi and DRC.
Jan Swanson and Mark Williams, for helping us to prepare for the trauma we would encounter.
Elizabeth Rice, who recognized the importance of documenting this trip, and along with Makala Johnson, assisted with this blog.
Dr. Bobbie Gostout, Dr. Don Hensrud, and Dr. Robert Jacobson, for supporting our trip.
Lenae Barkey and Jim Yolch , for solving the administrative hurdles on our behalf.
Our spouses, for their support, patience and sacrifices: Beth Creedon, Jill Dowdy, Julie Fischer, Ned Groves, Bill McGuire and Mariana Trabuco.
Shirley Weiss and John Noseworthy.
Carolina Owens, from the U.N. Office of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
Eve Ensler and V-day, the model for effective, courageous, transparent and noble activism – words cannot express our admiration for you.
Christine DeSchryver, an angel warrior, our hero.
Pat Mitchell, for telling me the story that launched this trip and connecting me with Eve.
Our anonymous benefactor, without whom I would still be crafting a letter to Ben Affleck!"
Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dr. Deb Rhodes, DRC, International, V-day