Some unexpected health issues have prevented David from travelling out to Rwanda as planned, so we are enormously grateful to Janyis Watson for stepping in at the last minute to provide some management support for the team over the coming weeks. Janyis was Head of Conservation at the Sussex Wildlife Trust and she has shown great enthusiasm and commitment for the work in Rwanda over the years. This is her fifth visit to the country. Here Janyis gives us her first impressions of arriving back in Rwanda!
Standing in line for my visa in Kigali and wondering at the speed of change here. My second visit of 2017 and you may not expect too much, but Rwanda is still a developing country and in the capital city you can see change before your eyes.
Gliding down the smooth new road beside Lake Kivu seems a world away from the old road through the forest, which we bumped, swayed and swerved down on my first visit to Rwanda in 2004. However, the speed of change slows with distance from Kigali and life can even appear to have stood still in the most isolated rural communities.
The deep red soil continues to support vibrant greenery and the little tin roofed houses, which look like foil confetti from the plane. And they of course house the players on this stage, who make us so welcome. The excitement of small voices and eagerly waving hands is always surprising and often overwhelming.
Our beautiful lakeside stop for lunch lulled me into a holiday mood and I relaxed as Patrick delivered us safely to Kamembe. Here progress is easy to see in the smart houses popping up in the neighbourhood and a definite increase in cars, but in the office the welcome is familiar and warm. That holiday mood soon fled as I was reminded of how much is going on!
As the country develops, the work of Rwanda Aid is even more vital in ensuring that nobody is left behind, that life for the most vulnerable also improves. This is indeed challenging but not as challenging as the daily struggle of a Rwandan living in poverty, just to stand still in a rapidly changing world.
I am really looking forward to my month here and the opportunity to work with the Rwanda team across all aspects of their work. I am also keen to enjoy some local walks and cycling further afield at the weekends.