Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Kageno 2 (Banda, Rwanda): A New Place of Hope
On our road trip through Rwanda, we had the opportunity to visit the future site of the new Kageno project, the Banda community. After seeing the previous Kageno project and it's impact on Rusinga Island, we were excited to explore the future project at the ground stage.
The Banda community is nestled against the picturesque, untouched Nyungwe National Forest, home to an abundance of rare primates. At the bottom of a valley lies the small community with its farmlands terraced along the banks of the mountainside. This unique location provides Banda with a serene setting, however also contibutes to many of the community's problems due to isolation and difficult geography for agriculture.
The people of Banda were welcoming and eager to discuss the upcoming Kageno project. Community leaders discussed with us the 3 biggest issues facing their town: 1. Health Care 2. Job Opportunities and 3. Education. The nearest clinic to Banda is a 3 hour walk, the nearest hospital 6 hours, requiring a long trek carrying a stretcher over mountainous terrain for any access to medical care. The main and only source of work is agriculture. However, due to the terrain the community cannot grow enough crops to support their own needs, let alone export crops for income. The community has a primary school, yet nearly none of their students advance to secondary school as it is several hours walk away and boarding is prohibitively expensive.
The prospects of a Kageno community center with a clinic to meet health care needs, profit generating activities marketed towards the increasing flow of tourists through the national forest, agricultural and conservation education, and improved nursery and secondary school access, are greeted with excitement by the community.
This community made it quite clear that they are not looking for a handout, they want to make the Kageno project their own. Over 15 community members have donated plots of land for the future Kageno project, an ideal site at the base of the valley between 2 rivers. The community has also offered to provide all labor and supplies for the construction of the center.
Standing on the site of the future Kageno 2 Project (above) with a gathering of the local children, one could picture the future community center and the promise it holds for the Banda community.