What Alexandra Knight products should you take to Rwanda and why?
When traveling I have a few staples that I can not live without. My Parker Thatch for Alexandra Knight Drawstring Pouch keeps all of my charging cords, international convertors, my skyroam and all tech gadgets handy in the pouch and ready for adventure at all times.
My Hunting Tote with Luggage Strap slides right over my wheeled luggage and stays in place making it the ideal carry on companion. It is lightweight and indestructible. No matter how many times I cram it under an airplane seat or over head it never disappoints and never shows its age.
What to do?
Go Gorilla Trekking
This is what led me to Rwanda....my personal Dian Fossey moment where I could experience gorillas in all of their splendor and glory in their natural habitat. Encountering the mountain gorillas in Parc National des Volcanoes was breathtaking. You trek through the beautiful terrain of Rwanda, often passing through local villages, farmland and jungle forests only to magically come upon a gorilla family and tribe. Their striking similar genetic make up to us becomes very obvious. Experienced park rangers lead you to one of the 10 habituated gorilla families and you have personal porters who carry your backpack and assist you with the rugged terrain. These porters are ex-poachers who now make a livelihood celebrating the wildlife rather than destroying it. Just one of the many beautiful stories of transformation in this spectacular country.
Visit the Dian Fossey Institute
Visit the Institute that carries on the important research of the famed gorilla researcher Dian Fossey. Meet with researchers, learn about their conservation efforts and the threats that gorillas face today. Dian Fossey's story was brought to life on the big screen in Gorillas in the Mist. Learning the stories of the gorilla families and silverbacks rivals most soap operas and reality shows today. The family dynamics and the domination of the silverback I find fascinating. You can read these stories chronicles on their website (click the header). We had the pleasure of visiting the Institution on it's 50th anniversary of Dian Fossey's arrival to Rwanda.
Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
It is astounding to visit a country that experienced a genocide where neighbors turned on neighbors and over 800,000 people were violently killed in 100 days. It is an important place of remembrance paying tribute to those who lost their lives and a powerful tool for educating visitors on the events leading up to the genocide. "How does it get to that point?" is a question that I struggled with understanding. This building acts as a burial site for the remains of over 250,000 that are interred there and is a chilling shrine to the loss of life that I still find hard to fathom happened while I was a college student. A moving video put out by the Foundation that runs the Memorial is here on YouTube but be warned it is graphic and most certainly will make you uncomfortable but an important and valuable account of an importance piece of history.
Have lunch at Heaven
Heaven was founded by Americans Josh Ruxin, author of A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope and a Restaurant in Rwanda,and his wife Alissa. I read his amazing book on the flight to Kigali and their memoir touched my heart in so many ways. It shares the real life story of their passion, struggles and life in Rwanda after the genocide. It chronicles the beautiful path they took building their restaurant, Heaven, which is perfectly named. It is a place of community, happiness and healing for a country that was broken. Alissa's original aim was to provide sustainable employment for orphans of the genocide and a gathering place for the community to heal through sharing a passion for food. Their courage and determination is awe-inspiring and brought me to tears many times when I had the pleasure of meeting them. It not only serves amazing food but has now blossomed into a boutique hotel, luxury retreat and gift shop for local artisans. I highly recommend getting lost in this book and then venturing to Heaven.
Shop at Rwanda Clothing Company
Joselyne Umutoniwase has an atelier in Kigali where she sells stylish designs in beautiful bold and colorful Rwandan fabrics. She provides an ethical workshop for Rwandans and created bespoke safari jackets for us that we designed upon our arrival into Kigali and departed with the custom creations in hand (shown above) She has a creative eye and loves collaboration with the customer which is my passion. ***Indagare is selling her safari jackets stateside now and the proceeds go to fund theGashora Girls Academy in Rwanda. To order these amazing jackets please email email@example.com to find out more information and order yours.
Visit the INEMA Arts Center
Two self taught artists founded this center to nurture and cultivate the young artists in Rwanda. "Inema" means blessing or gift and the Center provides employment for over 100 people and showcases amazing contemporary art. It provides workshops, training and hands-on classes to all ages, providing a space to fuel creative expression and in turn becoming a beacon in Rwanda for the arts and creativity. Get lost in the two-story gallery and add to your personal collection of art.
Movies and Books on Rwanda....
If traveling to Rwanda is not in your future or you are planning a trip, I recommend these amazing movies and books which are powerful narrations of this amazing country.
The moving and powerful true story of a hotel manager in Rwanda who houses refugees in his hotel during the Rwandan Genocide. It is a harrowing story and provides some insight into the events leading up to this horrific historical event. Nominated for several Academy Awards and Golden Globes, Stephen Holden of the NY Times said the film "offers a devastating picture of media-driven mass murder left unchecked" and is a "political thriller based on fact that hammers every button on the emotional console."
Gorillas in the Mist
The true story of American occupational therapist Dian Fossey, who becomes fascinated with the gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda and devotes her life to researching them while living in the mountains among them. She develops a means of communications with the gorillas and the movie chronicles her passion for protecting the gorillas from poachers and her groundbreaking documentation and research of these animals which is used today for conservation.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
by Philip Grourevitch
An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity. The extermination of 800,000 people in 100 days is told in this National Book Critics Circle Award. It frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermaths, the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice.
A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda
by Josh Ruxin
The inspiring memoir of one couple's heroic challenge to make a difference in Rwanda. This beautiful story of their struggles, love and determination for helping Rwanda rebuild after the genocide is a masterpiece of how resilient people are and how compassion and empathy can help transform a community. Visit their restaurant and boutique hotel in Kigali.
Why do I love Rwanda so much?
I traveled to Rwanda this Fall with Indagare. When I signed up for this Insider Journey, I was originally excited to have my Dian Fossey moment and share space with the Gorillas. I know by having taken many Insider trips that you go for one expectation the country offers you and become pleasantly surprised by the people you meet along the way and they end up stealing your heart. Little did I know that I would become a witness to the transformative change Rwanda has experienced since the Genocide. I was blown away by this country and the trip exceeded all expectations for me. The resilient spirit of the people and their determination to heal and forgive but never forget. Melissa Bradley, founder of Indagare and my dear friend said it best, "A trip to Rwanda delivers more than an encounter with gorillas, it also provides inspiration and promise - both of which are too scarce in the world today."