The past month went by in a flash and we cannot believe that we are already in June!
If you asked us to describe the previous month in one word it would be ‘Community’. Although we experienced and did many different things, community involvement was one of the recurring events. A strong bond with our neighbours has been established.
Meet Joseph and Maria
Whilst exploring a route for our community walk, an optional activity for our guests, we met Maria. She lives in a very small house next to our entrance road. Maria’s husband left her with her children and no means to provide for their income. She does not own any land and therefore cannot grow any crops so the community assists her with supplies so she can feed her family. Together with community members we thought of ideas to support Maria in a way that would benefit the community as well as Maria and her family.
Joseph and Maria
On the other side of Bisate hill we met Joseph, a tailor with 30 years’ experience. Joseph is part of the cooperative that was created when the community members sold plots of their land to Bisate Lodge.
We introduced Joseph to Maria and together they agreed that Maria would start with daily sewing lessons. Together they will take care of any tailoring jobs for Bisate Lodge. Together with the Bisate team we were able contribute towards a sewing machine for Maria, giving Maria the opportunity to make a living and take care of her family.
Rob and Maria
The word Umuganda can be translated as ‘coming together in a common purpose to achieve an outcome’. In traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbours to help them complete a difficult task.
As part of its efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the government of Rwanda drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt its development programmes to suit the country’s needs. The result is a set of Home Grown Solutions – culturally-owned practices translated into sustainable development programmes. One of these is Umuganda.
Modern day Umuganda can be described as community work. On the last Saturday of each month communities come together to do a variety of public works.
The Bisate team assisted the surrounding community with painting the roofs of their houses during Umuganda. A great way to reconnect with our neighbours and uplift the community spirit!
To give Bisate Lodge the true Rwandan look and feel, local craftsmen from our community are working in the lodge on a daily basis. Their skills, especially in weaving and bamboo uses, are unique. They are helping us to make sign posts, the balustrades of the balconies, little weaves for welcome cards, bamboo skewers and many other bamboo items that you will notice when visiting Bisate.
We have worked on many aspects to create the most special stay for our future guests. Together with our support team in South Africa we have created guest information folders, the spa menu, the wine list, little surprises that we will of course not mention in this post, and our menu. Everything is falling into place and we cannot wait to actually implement all the ideas and beautiful designs.
We have finalised the activities that we will offer to our guests within the lodge. As mentioned we have a community walk, where guests will be able to interact with the surrounding community, learn about the farming and produce in the area, and of course meet Joseph and Maria.
We have also set out two beautiful nature walks across the Bisate property. These are great hikes for birding, to witness the reforestation efforts and to take in the beautiful surrounding views.
Although we had a lot of rain and on top of it some more rain, which complicated the construction over the last weeks, the building has shown great progress. Now it is time for the fun part! We are starting to decorate and put all the beautiful furniture in place. The whole team – from barman to chef, from housekeeper to waiter – everybody is excited to put the final touches in place and open Bisate Lodge for our first guests!
In May containers and containers full of furniture arrived on site. We have organised it all according to the designated rooms and areas. Whilst unpacking we could not stop with our “Wows” and “Ohhhhs” and “Look at this!” All the different pieces are so beautiful and we are convinced that our guests will take many pictures of their room and the rest of the lodge during their stay.
Meet the Team!
Since this is our last post before Bisate officially opens to our guests we would like to introduce the complete Bisate team by picture. In this photo there are many special people who you will meet at the lodge. You’ll get to enjoy a complete team introduction during your stay but for now we’d like you to know a little more about one or two of our staff. Take for example Aloys Nzabonimpa who was born on top of Bisate hill (just above Villa 6) or meet Josiane Dusengimana who is the sixth-born in a family of 11 siblings. Seraphine Mukakabera has just graduated from hospitality college this year while Clement Manzi has been in the hospitality industry for nine years in different countries.
Welcoming our first guests to Bisate Lodge! Although we still need to put many of the finishing touches in place, we cannot wait for our first guests to arrive.
Read more on our Safaris to Rwanda