From a Stretcher to an Ambulance

Boniface used to drive trucks. This experience, driving large vehicles over mountainous terrain and rutted roads, serves him well now. Today, Boniface drives the ambulance donated by ADRA Canada, in partnership with ADRA Rwanda and the Canadian government, through the EMBRACE project.

In Boniface’s district in Rwanda, the ambulance used to be a stretcher carried by four men. They would work their way down the steep mountain roads and paths, swinging the emergency patient between them, to reach the nearest hospital. If a patient was too frightened to take the ambulance stretcher, they could choose to risk waiting for an ambulance to arrive from another district. Sometimes the ambulance would come after a long wait; sometimes the ambulance would not be able to come at all.

“So now, with the new ambulance right here, people are very happy knowing that if there is any kind of health emergency, we will be able to take them very quickly to the nearest hospital,” says Boniface.

Boniface shares driving duty with one other driver. They have both been especially trained for driving this ambulance, which has been equipped to manage the rough terrain. Boniface is on call for a week at a time, then he gives duty over to the other driver for a week.

“The ambulance was delivered less than two months ago now, and since then I have driven 23 people to the hospital with different emergencies. Many of them have been women in labor who were having complications,” Boniface shares. “One of them gave birth in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  The nurse that was going with us had me stop and she delivered the baby right there in the in the back of the truck. She did it herself. As a driver, I don’t get involved in that kind of thing!

“This ambulance has been such a wonderful gift to our community. This is something that we have needed for a very long time. This really brings up our life here. This ambulance is for the whole community. No one is going to have a problem while this is parked here. Everyone here is so thankful to the people of Canada who have shaken hands with the government of Rwanda and given us this ambulance. You have really met a great need here.”

In addition to providing this ambulance, the EMBRACE project is also tackling issues such as nutrition, sanitation, clean water, and quality health care. All of these initiatives aim to save mothers and babies from preventable deaths in Rwanda, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the Philippines. To find out more, please visit www.heartformaternalhealth.com.