Like all travel experiences our journey so far has been a string of highs and lows. To try and relate all of our encounters and and experiences from just these first three weeks would be near impossible. I can’t say that it’s always easy or fun but we’ve learned to appreciate the challenges and tough moments and understand that in truth they are what make traveling so important.
We began our journey in Rwanda where we’re staying with our now close friend Emmanuel Buigingo. Our first two weeks we’re a crash course in getting adjusted to a different way of life and beginning to understand many of the challenges facing Rwandans and local conservation. Our first weekend was spent gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, an experience so amazing no amount of words could describe it. The following week we began working with the Gorilla Organization learning what they do and visiting project sites around the community of Musanze.
Their work is now almost entirely based of the social integration of an indigenous group of peoples known as Batwa who up until the past handful of decades lived entirely as hunter gathers within the Virunga massive (a collection of volcanoes spanning between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda). Since the protection of this area to preserve the last remaining populations of mountain gorillas they have been completely removed from the park. Needless to say taking individuals from such an existence and forcing them to adapt to modern human culture can have some challenges.
Today the Batwa are at the absolute bottom of the ladder in the region and most are hardly getting by. On our visits to some of these communities where the Gorilla Organization is helping to implement farming education and basic reading and writing skills we’ve seen firsthand just how bad the situation really is. The scene in most of these villages was absolutely heart wrenching and I’m not quite sure I have it in me to really relate the finer details. What I do know is that without the work being done by the Gorilla Org and a few other small NGO’s the Batwa would not last much longer.
As many of you may have heard in the news the situation in the Eastern Congo has recently become quite volatile. Since the place we’ve been staying in Rwanda is only about 1.5km from the border of the DRC near the epicenter of the fighting we decided to take some time off and travel to Uganda to monitor the situation. While here we’ve visited over ten small NGO schools a national park and the busy city of Kampala. With the exception of the public buses which have been trying to say the least our experience here has been wonderful and we’re looking forward to another week exploring this beautiful country.
While there are clearly vast differences between our cultures and lifestyles it seems to be the small things that stand out the most. The fact that no matter where you go you’re required to pay in cash yet no one ever seems to have change. The inevitable “yes” to any question asked when the answer is actually an undoubted no. But most importantly peoples overall aptitude to look past their misfortunes and those of their country and put one foot forward and step into the next day.
Love you all,