September 2020 – Wilderness Safaris Rwanda continued its ongoing food relief to local communities in August 2020, by supporting the people most in need in the villages surrounding Gishwati Forest and nearby Gisunzu Primary School. In partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Forest of Hope Association (FHA), 123 food parcels and other essential supplies were distributed to vulnerable families, positively impacting 559 people.
“We consulted with the village leaders of Rwambeho, Kinihira, Nyarusuku and Ngungura, who provided us with a list of the people in most need of support due to the COVID-19 situation. Many are struggling as tourism is at a standstill in the region with only a few jobs available”, notes Ingrid Baas, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda Operations Manager.
With the assistance of the village leaders, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda employees, the RDB community warden and the FHA, Aline Umutoni, Community and CITW Coordinator for Wilderness Safaris Rwanda, distributed the parcels containing maize, beans and soap to these households on Friday the 28th of August 2020, using Gisunzu Primary School as the distribution centre.
“In total we distributed 1 915 kg of maize, 987 kg of beans and 260 soap bars, amounting to over 3 tons of supplies with a total value of USD2 000”, adds Ingrid. “As we met with the people in the community they clapped, cheered and sang to express their gratitude to Wilderness Safaris and our generous Chairman’s Foundation, whose contributions made this happen. The villagers are enthusiastic and feel the support, giving them hope for the future and the possible opportunities that will arise as tourism develops further in the Gishwati area”.
With further support from guests and partners, Wilderness Safaris will also assist Gisunzu Primary School with the essential supplies required to prepare for the school’s reopening, after being closed due to COVID-19. USD2 150 will be used to improve the classroom and learning facilities to ensure a hygienic environment. With the help of Wilderness Safaris and Children in the Wilderness, the school will organise face masks, sanitiser, soap, Tippy Taps, uniforms, shoes and school materials for all the students.
This forms part of Wilderness Safaris’ ongoing commitment to driving conservation tourism in the region. In May 2019, the company signed a 25-year concession agreement with the RDB for the development of a multi-phased conservation and tourism management programme for Gishwati Forest in Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
“In partnership with the RDB and FHA, a national Rwandan NGO, we are working on a multi-phased conservation and tourism management programme to develop and operate an exclusive chimpanzee and primate trekking experience in Gishwati. Our ongoing support of our Gishwati communities is therefore crucial during this time, and we are looking forward to growing our partnerships and impact in this area in the years to come”, Ingrid concludes.
To view a video clip of one of the previous food handovers in the Bisate community, click here.