A different kind of medical student

I have become friends with one of my translators, Bienfait, a young man nearing the end of medical school. He is a dedicated student who embraces the slightest knowledge. He is humble and compassionate yet accomplished and extremely intelligent.

Tonight we visited a local restaurant, perched on the edge of Lake Kivu. We sipped passion fruit juice in comfortable chairs and watched the sunset. I could not think of a better way to finish the day.

After darkness fell, we meandered to the dining area and ordered two pizzas. As we waited for our food, he began to reveal more about his childhood. One night, while he was contemplating a difficult homework assignment, he was interrupted by the footsteps and voices of soldiers infiltrating his compound. They began to pillage, so he quickly took refuge under his bed. He prayed for his life but became more terrified as the cacophony of screams from frightened neighbors intensified.

After a while, silence fell and Bienfait emerged from his place of hiding. His family was spared but he soon learned many of his neighbors did not survive. The soldiers randomly entered apartments and murdered all of the occupants.

After finishing the story, Bienfait quickly transitioned back to medicine. He asked me to teach him the subtleties of the four hypersensitivity reactions and we discussed the various types of anemia. As our 9PM curfew approached, we began to discuss brain anatomy and the use of computerized tomography (CT). He was eager to learn more so we decided to pick another time to peruse the internet for CT scans of the head.

I offered tomorrow, Wednesday, but he politely declined. The vice president of his university, who was leading a protest against an increase in school fees, had gone missing yesterday. He was kidnapped and they feared he was murdered. Bienfait felt obligated to protest during the day.

I then offered Thursday. Again, he was unable to attend. There were classes and a potential family obligation. His aunt, a very close friend and supporter of his for many years, was murdered 3 weeks ago. She was kidnapped, quartered and decapitated. He wanted to be available should he be needed for the murder trial.

We settled on Saturday.

We then left. Bienfait returned to his small, one-room shack with intermittent electricity. He will study tonight by candlelight.


One Response to “A different kind of medical student”

  1. Marshall Rodgers Says:

    Good job Chris! Very interesting stories. Glad to see that you’re out there helping people that really need it. Jen passed along the blog site as i’m not on facebook (one of the last facebook holdouts). Tell Lisa we said hi. Be safe. M.R.

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