We have just gotten back to the city, Kigali, after a couple of days with no wifi. The last few days have been full of ups and downs, but ultimately every down has ended with an up, in the end.
We spent one day with the Rice Farmer-Kihihi Cooperative, meeting with the board and then the farmers themselves. Despite a long and breathtaking drive through mountains with banana trees cascading down them like waterfalls, our meetings were less than inspiring and we felt some concern that the project was not as progressed as we would have like to have seen since a year ago. The day was hot and still and so was the mood.
As it tends to do, the passing of night and rising of a new sun changed our perspective, however. In the morning before leaving the town, we met our partners at Literacy Action Development Agency (LADA) and made great strides towards an excellent plan of action and discovered where the issues were stemming from to begin with. I am confident that we will see great improvement in the near future.
Four and a half hours of driving mountain roads lined with terraced farms brought us to a the teeth rattling, dirt road that leads to Mount Gahinga Lodge. Although this lodge is so wonderful that I compared it to being in the womb, especially after such a hectic week of working and driving, our purpose was not vacation.
We stayed here last year to take a brief break and go gorilla trekking. During our stay, we found out that the owner of the lodge (he owns three others, as well) has a trust that was buying land for a group of Batwa in that area (among several other community projects around his lodges). These Batwa are living in the conditions that our other groups were living in when we first met them five years ago. We had a fantastic meeting with Herbert who handles the Batwa project for the trust. He took us to see the piece of land that was recently purchased for them. It is absolutely perfect, location on the edge of the national park in the shadows of the volcanoes, size, proximity to water and school, proximity to neighbors, VIEW. We have agreed to begin by building houses for these Batwa, as we have with the other groups. Once that is done, we shall move on to the next steps towards development. I am extremely excited to start working with Herbert and the trust and this new group of Batwa! I’m not going to lie, I am also thrilled to have an excuse to return again to this heavenly place.
Now, there are three travel days. Today we traveled back to Kigali. Tomorrow we fly to Entebbe and the next day we will take the long drive to Lira, northern Uganda to meet with our Honey Farmers and Rice Farmers-Lira. Stay tuned…