By Linda Baxter, Dining for Women Member
As part of Dining for Women’s Travel Program, a group of travelers will visit Rwanda February 18-25, 2018. DFW member Linda Baxter lived and worked in Rwanda and shares her experience in the country.
In 2014 and 2015, I was living in Rwanda and working for the Human Resources for Health (HRH) project. Our goal was to assist the staff of the University of Rwanda in their efforts to improve medical and nursing education and practice. I was assigned to a more rural school of nursing and midwifery in the town of Gicumbi (Byumba) where I worked with faculty, and students – in classrooms as well as the hospital and local health center.
Often when I tell people I lived there, they react with awe as if I had been in a very dangerous place – and I have to explain how calm, safe, and beautiful Rwanda is. The climate is great, the people are nice, friendly, English-speaking (mostly), and it is VERY safe.
Everyone remembers the genocide, but forgets that it happened 20 years ago. Rwandans and their government have worked hard to move past that awful time – never forgetting, but developing their economy to make Rwanda a better place. I think Kigali must be the cleanest city in Africa! There is little crime (maybe some pickpockets at the busy, crowded central bus station), and I always felt safe – walking, in taxis and on buses – both in urban Kigali and in more rural areas and villages.
Having spent many weekends in Kigali I found many excellent restaurants – and Dining for Women travelers will visit the best of them! Heaven (where they greet you with “Welcome to Heaven”) was a Friday night favorite for our group. Republika Lounge (with one of the best gifts shops) was another favorite, Sole Luna has good food and a regular “Trivia Night”, and Khana Kazana was an Indian favorite. I even stayed at Chez Lando Hotel and found it to be a very friendly and comfortable Rwandan facility.
Many of my colleagues as well as my daughter and I visited Volcanos National Park for monkey and gorilla trekking and found it to be truly amazing (some said life-changing)! It’s hard to believe you are standing 15 feet away from these gorilla families just watching them go about their normal activities. We saw twin toddlers, a mom breastfeeding her newborn, several adolescents – and of course the huge silverback who stood guard over his family. The guides and guards made us feel safe with their instructions on our behavior and their obvious familiarity with these gorilla families. Rwanda carefully and wisely restricts visitors to one hour per day to preserve the lifestyle of these special creatures.
I wouldn’t go to Rwanda and miss this opportunity – it’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with one of Dian Fossey’s gorilla families!
I enthusiastically encourage people to join Dining for Women’s trip to the Land of a Thousand Hills - as I know you will love it. This could be your best introduction to Africa!
Linda Baxter is a member of Dining for Women’s Great Barrington, MA chapter and serves on the organization’s Grant Selection Committee.
For more information on the DFW trip to Rwanda, visit here.