The next few months promise to be exciting times for Rwanda Aid! We are very fortunate to be working with a number of inspiring people, who have willingly given of their time and expertise to support our work to bring real, sustainable improvements to the people of South West Rwanda. They share our vision and, working alongside our fantastic team, we are confident they will bring about exciting changes and a sense of empowerment for the future!
Sam and Katy
Meet Sam Humpry-Baker and his new wife, Katy! This amazing pair have chosen to spend some of their honeymoon working for Rwanda Aid. They arrived last week and have been settling into life at Munezero House! Sam and Katy met at University and now live in London. Sam has a PhD in Materials Science and now works as a Research Fellow at Imperial College London. Katy did a Masters Degree in International Developement at LSE and now works as as Public Servant in the House of Commons. When they are not working, they are big fans of the great outdoors and love camping and cycling.
While they are in Rwanda, Sam is going to be working to develop two enterprise groups with a focus on harnessing renewable energy to bring electricity to areas where currently they have none. One group will focus on the making and selling of biomass briquettes and the other on selling solar panels. Katie is going to be working with our Manager, Jonas to ensure that all our enterprise projects are running smoothly. She will use her skills to support each project accountant and make sure careful records are being kept of the successes of each project. She will also be helping two of our projects — The Rusizi Fruit Juice Company and our shoemakers make and submit business plans to the Rwanda Hope Foundation. Finally, we are going to ask her to help choose our award winners for the Enterprise of the Year! We think they will be kept busy!
Sam and Katy have been in touch to give us their first impressions of Rwanda and here’s what they had to say!
‘Our first few days in Rwanda have been about discovering for ourselves the many things that we have read or been told about this country and Rwanda Aid…
Firstly, with a view out of the airplane window, it doesn’t take long to realise where Rwanda’s name “Land of a Thousand Hills” comes from. We saw a beautiful, undulating landscape dotted with roofs in small villages. But when the sunlight faded, so too did sight of the houses that were below, and the absence of electricity and lighting in many areas became quickly apparent.
We had been told that Kigali is a spotless, thriving city. Sure enough, arriving in Kigali airport proved to be one of the smoothest airport arrival experiences ever! Not only were we met by helpful and friendly border staff (somewhat a rarity these days!), but all our bags were waiting for us in the shiny luggage hall having survived a day long transit in Nairobi, which had cast some doubt in our minds about whether we would be so lucky. Life outside the airport was just as orderly, clean and welcoming as within.
We had been told it was the start of the rainy season and as we approached Kamembe the heavens opened and the rain of an African rainy season did not disappoint. Sitting outside Munezero House in the vein hope that the rain might subside we were anticipating our welcome by the Rwanda Aid team, who we had been told were a “jolly bunch”. When we finally made a dash for it we were met by a team of friendly, smiling faces who gave us the warmest of welcomes!
We had heard about the work of Rwanda Aid in the Rusizi District and a short time in the office, as well as a wander around Kamembe, soon cast light on what this work looks like. We saw a busy, productive team who all clearly know their roles, and work hard to achieve them. The fruits of this labour are evident, as a short walk through town brought us within sight of the Street Children Village. We were struck by its idyllic location on the banks of lake Kivu (which would rival any fancy U.K. boarding school!) and the benefit this peaceful, restorative setting must bring to the children who live there.
We were also told that we might face some frustrations and our two hour excursion to withdraw some cash, and the power cut that just made me retype all of this (I shall be saving more frequently — lesson learned!), has also brought this to light!
To sum up, our first impressions of Rwanda are that it is a beautiful, fertile nation, still facing the many challenges of economic and social development, with a population of friendly, productive people; and of the Rwanda Aid team, a welcoming, driven group of individuals who are working hard to improve the lot of their people in the most effective and sustainable way. We are very excited about helping with this mission over the next 10 weeks!’
We look forward to hearing more from Sam and Katy over the coming weeks, so do look out for updates here on our Rwanda Aid Blog page!