August 2021 – Wilderness Safaris and its non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness (CITW), have launched a new impact project in Rwanda, which will see each household in the Kinigi Sector – comprising some 23 000 residents – receive avocado saplings and large-scale agricultural support, to ensure that each family has fresh, nutritious avocados to supplement their diets. This project, implemented on 10 and 11 August 2021, was funded by Wilderness Safaris’ Chairman’s Foundation, with the aim of providing all 4 974 households in the sector with three Hass avocado seeds or saplings – a total of 14 922 trees.
This project is just one of several significant initiatives that were completed in June around Magashi Camp at Akagera National Park, Bisate Lodge at Volcanoes National Park and the community around Gishwati-Mukura National Park, at a total of USD61 480.
“We are so grateful for the kind-hearted donations from our guests and the Chairman’s Foundation, which will undoubtedly have a lifelong impact on the people living in these communities”, said Ingrid Baas, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda Operations Manager. “We are particularly excited to roll out our new avocado farming initiative, and have many more impactful projects planned for the coming months”.
Innocent Twagirimana, Executive Secretary of Kinigi Sector, attended the handover of the avocado saplings, and profusely thanked Wilderness Safaris and CITW for their ongoing support to the communities surrounding Bisate Lodge. “From the bottom of our hearts, and on behalf of the entire sector and me personally, I would like to thank you very much for your assistance in everything. May you be blessed and protected”, he said.
The installation of a solar borehole and water pump in the remote Akayange village, situated just outside of Akagera National Park, was also recently completed. The borehole will provide water for the 250 households in the village, whose residents had previously needed to walk up to six kilometres to collect water. The borehole will also provide fresh water to the 395 students and eight teachers at Akayange Primary School, ensuring that they stay hydrated and maintain good hygiene practices.
The project, which cost USD21 260, was managed by the Akayange Community Committee, one of a number set up by Wilderness Safaris and CITW to facilitate projects in each of the communities, to ensure that funds received from Wilderness guests are used for projects that the whole community supports. With the availability of running water in Akayange, the committee can begin planning the next project to improve conditions at the school, and Magashi’s closest community.
Around Bisate, a drive to improve the lives of girls in the community provided sanitary packs worth USD6 620 to all 311 female students at Bisate Secondary School. The packs consist of two pairs of underwear and six re-usable pads, packed together in kitenge fabric purses, hand-made by Muhisimbi Voice of Youth, a local non-profit project that supports teenage mothers in the surrounding villages. Bathroom facilities, including a shower, and toilets, running water, a rest room and a small storeroom for clean linen and other hygiene supplies, were also completed at the school. These improvements, coupled with the provision of the sanitary packs, enable the girls to now attend school on all the days of the month.
As part of Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to making a positive impact, USD12 000 was spent on infrastructure at the large-scale agricultural and indigenous tree nursery in Bisate village, a project undertaken by the Tuzamurane Co-operative to provide indigenous saplings to Volcanoes National Park when the park expansion begins. Agricultural trees grown in the nursery will also become a food source for the community. With a water point to irrigate the saplings throughout the season, a toilet for the workers, and the necessary tools for the agronomists, the project is now complete. The proceeds generated by their sales will provide the Tuzamurane Co-operative with the resources needed to maintain the nursery.
At Bisate Primary School, Wilderness Safaris installed a water purification tank, ensuring rainwater harvested at the school is suitable for students and staff to drink. And from a donation of USD 500, Ejo Heza Nursery School received basic supplies including chairs, Tippy Taps, soaps, face masks for all the children, hand sanitisers, mats, and mattresses. Furthermore, a donation of USD2 100 to Mutuelle, a community-based medical insurance scheme, means that 158 of the most vulnerable households, consisting of 679 people, will receive medical cover for a full year.
In an ongoing effort by CITW to improve the school grounds at Gishwati’s Gisunzu Primary School, a volleyball field was completed in June. USD4 900 was spent on these improvements, which also included drainage to prevent flooding during the rainy season, pathways to the classrooms, and the planting of trees to provide the children with shade. Further improvements will be made to the school during the school holidays.
“We are delighted that we have been able to complete these projects, especially during this tough period brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Community Committees that we have established in each area, the enthusiasm of the headmasters of the schools, and the generosity of our guests, Wilderness Safaris is dedicated to supporting the communities in Rwanda and ensuring our journeys continue to make a positive impact”, concluded Ingrid.