High up in the mist of the Rwandan hills, there is a health centre. Far from the stacked tin roofs of the Rwandan capital, the clinic sits atop rolling pastures and paddy fields which glisten in the heat of the afternoon. Down miles of track, deep red from the Rwandan soil, it is almost wilderness. Only a few drivers can navigate the paths without losing their way. The night is completely unbroken by any noise or distant light. Cyahafi is a true outpost.
Though the clinic is small, it is bustling with activity. Women with brightly coloured dresses and patterned umbrellas tie their babies tightly to them with to walk through the grasses and up the steep dirt track to the clinic. Some of the babies are just days old, eyes tightly closed, sleeping in their blankets. Nurses move amongst the mothers, distributing forms and filling up vaccinations.
That Cyahafi Health Outpost is here at all is mostly down to the fantastic work done by Umubano volunteer and London GP Doctor Sharon Bennett. With two friends, she walked over 200 miles to raise money to build the new centre near Kirambi Together they raised over £19,000, and had money to spare for healthcare equipment and to renovate a nutrition unit. They even produced a new microfinance project which will allows locals to breed their own pigs and produce beer.
Sharon has been part of Project Umubano - the Conservatives' social action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, for many years. Each year she heads up a team of medics who travel out to treat patients and train medical staff. To date, the work of the Project's health team has involved treating thousands of patients, some of whom have a four-hour walk to access medical care.
The post was officially opened by Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell MP on Tuesday. We were treated as guests of honour as Rwandans danced and played music, sitting alongside the nuns and nurses who work together to provide treatment in this rural part of the country. Cyahafi will be used by thousands of patients for antenatal clinics, vaccination clinics, counselling and treatment for those living with HIV and for nutritional, hygiene and agricultural education.
Sharon spoke at the ceremony to say how delighted she was that the centre will offer better access and care to young children and babies in such a crucial stage in their lives. It is fantastic that the Project can offer the simple things we take for granted in the UK; vaccinations and basic care for people who would otherwise have had little access to it.
I know we all feel the same pride when we talk about the great work we've seen our volunteers doing in Africa. It may be only a small contribution in the two weeks we are here, but we are leaving the necessary skills and information for Rwandans to continue to work without our help.