Heart Hero- Leslie Kaze

Today we spotlight Leslie Kaze, our go-to woman on the ground in Kigali. With a passion for health and providing access to health care for the most marginalized and vulnerable population, Leslie first became involved with Team Heart as a student intern before joining the organization full time and is now completing her first year. Leslie is our ears on the ground, our early detection center. She fills the role of lead cheerleader and strong fair-minded mediator.

The most important contact, as the Country Director, Leslie navigates the path between Rwanda’s healthcare strategies, and how the US-based volunteer can benefit the most. Coordinating a staff of five supported by Team Heart, Leslie prioritizes patient care with expertise in cultural and business trends, which is crucial to accomplish on a timeline. Leslie is compassionate and caring, but she shares the reality of how best to help in Rwanda – she is not one to throw money in for one-time easy fixes. She shares her pride in being Rwandan and love for her fellow citizens.
Leslie’s message is to all stakeholders: Though we still have a long way to go and it hast’t been easy; we are all in it together. Let’s keep finding solutions together.

What motivates you to stay involved?

I know what we do makes it possible and easier for someone to access cardiac care they usually don’t have.

In your opinion, what is the most important work Team Heart does?

In addition to offering surgical services to the most vulnerable Rwandans, Team Heart works hard to help build a capable and independent Rwandan cardiac team.

What contribution or achievement to Team Heart are you most proud?

I am currently working on more RHD prevention and awareness projects, and I can’t wait to see the impact it will have on building a community more aware and able to protect itself. In the
meantime, I am also working on a digital solution for a more efficient post-op patient follow-up care to improve the quality of life post-surgery.

What do you hope Team Heart will achieve in the near future?

I dream of a country where people have access to quality care, no matter their background. For this to happen, we need human resources capacity and infrastructure, among other support. My
hope for Team Heart is to see its dream/effort to build a cardiac care team and infrastructure in Rwanda come to fruition.

Share an anecdote about Team Heart that really moved you.

My most moving experience with Team Heart was a two-week post-op patient home visit that I oversaw in my first year at Team Heart. My colleagues and I saw 32 post-op patients. We met
with their friend and family, and together they shared their RHD journey, and they described the impact surgery had on their lives. As a new staff member, this experience not only illustrated the
impact of Team Heart’s work but also encouraged me to be a voice of hope and positivity to every patient as they prepare for surgery and go through the first stages of recovery post-
surgery.

How will you pump your heart during the challenge, September 22-29?

I will walk to pump my heart:)

More than 1000 people have volunteered with Team Heart over the last dozen-plus years, donating thousands of hours to run this program. We thank every single individual.
Share Leslie’s story and help raise funds for the Pumping Heart Challenge.

"I am thankful to Team Heart for saving my life and allow me to return to my studies energetically and it does me proud to be studying public health"

TEAM HEART PATIENT

“I consider being a part of Team Heart to be the biggest achievement in my nursing career, and one of the best parts of my life!”

KRISTIN CALHENO RN

“After I returned from Rwanda, each time I passed my to do list, my pencil hovered to cross off Rwanda--I could not do it. Rwanda was not finished.”

MARIA STEELMAN 2012

"Rwanda can eradicate rheumatic heart disease in a generation-it is an achievable goal"

DAVID WILSON