Children in the Wilderness and Wilderness Safaris Rwanda’s support for the Gishwati communities continued this month, with another round of food parcels distributed to the most disadvantaged families in the area.
The team packed and prepared 1 735 kg of maize, 888 kg of beans and 230 soap bars (with a total value of USD2 000) on Thursday the 3rd of December 2020, with the distribution to 117 households consisting of 527 people following the next day, Friday the 4th of December 2020.
The leaders of four villages – Rwambeho, Kinihira, Nyarusuku and Ngungura – in the Gishwati area provided us with a list of the people in most need of support due to the COVID-19 situation. We organised the event with our partners, The Forest of Hope Association and the Rwanda Development Board.
In previous months the distribution has taken place at Gisunzu Primary School, but since Rwandan schools re-opened in November after a period of closure during COVID-19, we could no longer use the classrooms to pack and distribute the parcels – it’s a very good sign that these classrooms are in use by the students, and a most welcome sight after the long closure!
Luckily we found the perfect alternative at the Forest of Hope Guest House and Camp Site. As part of a multi-phased conservation and tourism management programme for Rwanda’s Gishwati-Mukura National Park, the Forest of Hope Association (FHA) in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), opened the Forest of Hope Guest House and Camp Site in the Gishwati sector of the park on the 1st of December. Visitors staying at both the guest house and camp site have the opportunity to explore the Gishwati sector of the park for an immersive forest experience.
Wilderness Safaris’ COVID-19 relief started in Rwanda in April and continued for four months in the five villages surrounding Bisate Lodge. In August, September, October and December the support shifted to four villages around the Gishwati area. In total 26 tonnes of food has been distributed so far, benefiting 1 110 families comprising 4 660 people.
Aline Umutoni, CITW and Community Coordinator for Wilderness Safaris in Rwanda, has been part of all eight distributions since April.
“I am so proud to work for a company that keeps supporting the people most in need. Since I started working for Wilderness Safaris in 2017, I have witnessed first-hand how lives are changed and how we make a difference. The food parcel distribution over the last months has had an enormous impact, not only on the people that we directly support, but also sets an example for other companies in Rwanda”. Aline continues: “I am ready to do anything it takes, and to keep contributing to Wilderness Safaris and CITW’s efforts”.
Thank you to our generous Chairman’s Foundation and guests of Bisate Lodge and Magashi, whose contributions make the support parcels possible.
Report by Ingrid Baas, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda Operations Manager and CITW Rwanda Programme Co-ordinator