Rwanda CITW & Community Update – August 2020

Repairs to Bisate water project completed

Last year in November, Wilderness Safaris, in partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (The Fossey Fund) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB), rehabilitated the existing water infrastructure at Bunyenyeri and Bushokoro, both situated close to Bisate Lodge and Bisate Primary School in Rwanda’s Musanze District. The project, which started in late September and was completed in November 2019, benefits a population of nearly 5 000 people from Bunyenyeri, Karambi Kazi, Kumazi, Myase and Nyarusizi villages, with improved access to clean water.

Unfortunately part of this water infrastructure was damaged by the heavy precipitation during the rainy season in March and April. The rains were so heavy they caused serious landslides in Volcanoes National Park, where the source of the water is situated. The landslides and heavy rainfall damaged the pipes and water collection points inside the park. Due to COVID-19 regulations and restrictions we could not fix this damage immediately, but we are relieved and happy that in August 2020 the necessary repairs were completed.

Not only is all the damage repaired and the tanks, pipes and taps in working order, we also managed to reinforce the infrastructure to protect it from future heavy rainfalls. It is now stronger than ever and should provide the households in the five villages with fresh and clean water for a long time to come.

All the work was made possible through donations to the Bisate Community from various guests who have visited Bisate Lodge. The total repairs and improvements amounted to USD 5 000.

Last week meetings were held to ensure the community will maintain and look after their water sources. Water committees were established and will be responsible for the infrastructure’s upkeep, and to report any damage to the local authorities.

Establishment of Community Committees for Magashi and Gishwati

To ensure that the community and the schools that we work with can help us decide which projects to implement in our areas of operation, we established a Bisate Community Committee in 2019. This Community Committee meets every quarter and discusses the implementation, fundraising and development of new and existing projects. In July we established the Community Committees for Magashi and for Gishwati. A first meeting for both committees was held and projects to start fundraising for have been established and agreed on.

All three Community Committees (Bisate, Magashi and Gishwati) will meet every three months and outside of the quarterly meetings, the community committee will be in contact via Whatsapp groups to receive updates on projects.

New water tanks for Bisate Primary School

Through generous donations from our guests Robert and Alison Green we have been able to install three new water tanks (2 x 10 000 and 1 x 5 000 litre tanks) plus the necessary tank stands, gutters to collect the rain water from the roof, and connection pipes, to improve the hygiene at the school. The installation of the tanks will be completed in the next weeks, before the students return to school after a period of school closure due to COVID-19. The water tanks will assist the school to improve the hygiene standards, which is now even more important. The total costs of the installation and materials comes close to USD 3 500.

More pictures to follow when completed.

Face masks for staff and guests

In April when we provided the first face masks for our employees, we asked Joseph and Maria, our dedicated tailor and seamstress in the Bisate community to assist. They made beautiful masks for the Bisate team, but since that time the face mask industry in Rwanda has evolved. Currently all face masks in Rwanda need to be made by companies that are licensed and approved by the Rwandan Standards Boards and Rwandan Health Organization.

Luckily one of our partners in the community, Muhisimbi Voice of Youth in Conservation, set up a project in the community for teenage mothers to make the masks. Muhisimbi and Children in the Wilderness are partners in organising the conservation camps in the area. Last month Muhisimbi received approval from government and the Standards Board, and they are now allowed to produce and sell masks.

Together with them we worked on branding the packaging with the Wilderness Safaris logo and we translated the text into English. We ordered 300 masks from them – which are now proudly worn by our staff and soon will be gifted to all guests visiting Bisate Lodge. A great way to make sure our staff and guests have beautiful Rwandan face masks whilst supporting the communities surrounding the lodge.