One of the most remarkable orphanages I have ever seen, L Esperance at Kigarama in the highlands of South Eastern Rwanda along the Congo Nile Trail, is now set to embark on one of their income generating projects, the Birambye Eco Lodge, to be set up on a 3 hectares piece of land right on the shores of Lake Kivu.
Assisted by ICATIS, the International Centre for Appropriate Technology and Sustainability, sufficient funds have been raised to purchase the land needed to start the lodge and get all the titles and deeds unified. Once that has been accomplished the planning and licensing phase will go underway, with approvals sought from the relevant authorities including getting green light from the environmental watchdogs to begin construction.
Besides the staff at the orphanage, led by Victor Monroy, some 18 other individuals in their various capacities have been named as a support team, looking after certain aspects of the lodge project development and being already put in charge of various crucial components like windsurfing, boating, biking, hiking, environmentally friendly building and operating practices, but also to create links with the media, local regional and international. Close ties are also being sought with the Institute of National Museums and local universities to create win win situations between the lodge, existing institutions aimed at promoting culture and heritage tourism and the academia teaching relevant courses in tourism, hospitality and environmental protection.
The new lodge, when completed, will become a key link in the series of overnight stops along the Congo Nile Trail, much about which has been written here already and much more will come in the future as I intend to return to the trail later in the year for some hiking through Nyungwe Forest, across rural Rwanda and a return visit to my friends at L Esperance and the Bumba Base Camp of Father Patrick.
Visit www.lesperancerwanda.org or see more on Victors incredible vision for his orphaned children at www.victormonroytrust.org and of course about the lodge project at www.icatis.org/birambye
Contacts for all the 18 individuals are available on request and funding proposals and fund raising initiatives can be coordinated with Victor Monroy via firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourism as a tool to reduce poverty and sustain a community close up and hands on. Visitors are always welcome to L Esperance and to the Birambye Lodge site on Lake Kivu not too far from Kibuye, and this, according to Victor, is a standing invitation to everyone coming to The Land of a Thousand Hills for a visit. Watch this space.