March 8, 2011
Fossey Fund Board Meets in Africa
The Fossey Fund's Africa staff welcomed more than 23 staff and guests to its Africa HQ in Kigali, Rwanda last week. The official board visit began with a garden party reception at the Fund's official residence in Kigali. Our vice president for Africa programs, Juan Carlos Bonilla and his wife Edna and their two sons make the residence their home and opened it up to the board members in a welcome from Africa staff. Board members who left the Hotel des Milles Collines to travel through Kigali's tree lined streets were impressed with the capital city's progress. Brick paved sidewalks, trees and flowering shrubs make Kigali a uniquely clean and pleasant city and an easy and safe place in which to walk at any time of the day.
Next day we had an early start, shepeherding board members and their bags into to safari equipped land cruisers for the journey to Musanze in Rwanda's north western region. Managing a convoy of five vehicles is the job of our lead driver Alex who skillfully guarantees that no bags or, more importantly, no board members are left behind!
Our journey begins with a long climb up the first of several hills reaching ridge top providing spectacular views of Rwanda's green cultivated hills and valleys. We stop several times for photos. Rwanda is known as the Land of Thousand Hills and this is vividly portrayed on our journey. The beautiful landscape also illustrates Rwanda's challenge as a densely populated country as we view cultivated fields climbing all the way to the top of the very steep hillsides. Nevertheless the people we see are smiling and wave as we pass and the country's commitment to education is evident as we notice scores of children on their way to school. The girls wearing bright blue dresses and the boys beige shorts and shirts make their way along the road side to their local school.
The road continues to gradual climb from Kigali towards Musanze much higher up.We have our first stop at the Volcanoes Gorilla Hotel where we are met by staff of the Karisoke Research Center as we check in for a two-night stay. After a quick break we head on with Katie Fawcett, Director of Karisoke, to see the Fossey Fund’s Health and Education projects in the village of Bisate where many of the Karisoke trackers live. On the way we pass the five volcanoes which make up the Volcanoes National Park — Muhabura, Mgahinga, Sabyinyo, Visoke and Karisimbi — and those members of the group who are trekking to see the gorillas the next day get quite excited.
More later on the projects in Bisate,