Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tripbod traveller in Rwanda inspired by locals!

Following the research I conducted, I realised I had made some valuable observations regarding African local business.

One major outcome found from talking to these locals was the immense good that the money was doing, as any money made was utilised so efficiently. The first use would always be school fees, because all these people want is an education, which is not state-covered like we receive yet barely appreciate.

The next main point I noticed while interviewing these locals was the selflessness and generosity of them all, as maybe half of the craft shops were set up to raise money for others:
• Some were raising money for a group of orphans, to pay for school fees and general essentials such as food and clothing. The children made crafts to sell, and some money was reinvested in the business to buy stock whilst the majority of the profit goes to the children. I mentioned they were orphans; this came about when some rebels from the Congo came over the border and massacred many of the locals here.
• There were a few stalls, all run separately but for similar purposes, where the majority of the proceeds is given to women, some of them widows, that are caring for their husbands and/or children with H.I.V. They make crafts from home and these are sold in the shop to pay for medicine, school fees and general essentials to survive.
• There were several different organisations set up where the profit goes towards good causes. It baffled me that the little that is made goes straight to bare essentials or good causes. The general ethos is to make something from nothing; maybe this is just a survival technique.
Whilst we were researching and interviewing the locals, Edwin was interviewing the managers at the exclusive lodges and hotels in the area to ask if they would also be interested in making a beneficial relationship with the locals to utilise local resources and build the capacity of the locals, hopefully further educating the population and expanding the ability for these areas to prosper and therefore develop, which will subsequently have a ripple effect across the country... Well, that’s the plan anyway, and so far people were being very receptive; or maybe Edwin was particularly good at explaining that everyone would benefit from these changes.

The afternoon was spent nosing around lodges and cottages, exclusive and very, very expensive, painfully so. Edwin was still discussing business with hotel owners at this point while myself and Doreen pretended we could afford to stay in this $1000 per person per night, fairly average in my eyes, hotel room. The part I would pay for is the view and the local interaction; this we got for the bargain price of $10 per night maximum at the Gorilla Friends guest house – plus an incomparable atmosphere!

Either way, the day ended on a positive note. We all returned to the Gorilla Friends guest house, to the starkly decorated bar, tired, but in that really satisfying exhausted way that the day had gone well.
The next day would be spent travelling back down, traversing the narrow, terrifying tracks out of the mountains in search of a far flung place called Kisoro.

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