Selma Benyameni, Wilderness Namibia Hospitality and Support Trainer, visited Rwanda in late June and July 2022. We asked her to tell us a bit more about her amazing experience.
- Purpose of the trip – I went to help with operations, specifically to manage Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge while the lodge manager, Eric, was on leave.
- Where were you based – I mostly stayed at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, but also spent time at Bisate lodge, when there was no accommodation at Sabyinyo.
- Your trip highlights – Eish this is a tough question! The people of Rwanda have been my highlight. I know that everyone goes to Rwanda to see gorillas and golden monkeys, but to me, the people stood out. I saw golden monkeys on my last day, it was a very special treat and interesting to see how they coexist with the communities. They eat the farmers’ potatoes and the rangers and trackers count how often the monkeys get into the fields so that the community can be compensated for the loss of their potatoes. The experience I had with the people was amazing, they are very open and eager to learn. We had such fun. Nothing is ever too much trouble to assist their guests.
- Were there any knowledge-sharing opportunities you identified between the two regions, Namibia and Rwanda – Mainly with the Sabyinyo team, as they are very keen to learn about Wilderness. We took learnings from each other. I will transfer what I have learned into my daily job and to everyone willing to listen. I loved working with Rob and Ingrid Baas and their team, from General Managers to junior staff. Everyone works hard, and they all work towards one common goal, which is ensuring guest satisfaction. How they take care of each is also commendable.
- How would you summarise your experience – There is no remedy for laziness. If you are lazy forget ever living and working in Rwanda, my friend you will feel out of place.
- Any last stories you would like to share – Too many… but I did love the healthy way of life, from the delicious food to the walks uphill. Matooke Green Bananas is a staple food for many, as are Irish Potatoes in Kinigi. On the drive from Kigali to Kinigi, I had to hold my heart in my hands, as the roads are small and narrow but open to all. In short, the drivers are crazy. Rules of the road don’t exist and if they do, the driving style is only for those who live in Rwanda. The guys driving with big sacks of potatoes, pineapples or green bananas – mainly used for a local dish called Matoke Avocados, are amazing. The bicycle drivers have attached car tyres to their flip flops, so that they can brake when coming down a hill. Electric motorcycles, known locally as BodaBoda, are even more thrilling! I was impressed with a woman driver who drove cautiously, compared to some of her male colleagues. Rwanda is clean and the people take pride in their country and establishments. Last but not least, planting a few trees between Sabyinyo and Bisate was very special as I have contributed to the reforestation projects. I have played a part in ensuring wildlife returns to the area.
Rwanda and its people will forever remain very special to me.