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Events

In:sight on Rwanda: Looking at the past to understand the future

BI WORLDWIDE's Event Professionals Teresa Allen and Katrina Rannard embarked on a four day trip to Rwanda, investigating the destination and what it has to offer for the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events industry.

BI WORLDWIDE has created the in:sight project as the company feels it is important to visit and educate itself on untapped destinations to truly assess with its own eyes, and where appropriate, add new destinations to the portfolio for recommendation to clients.

In:sight to Rwanda has proved to be a true success story and in this series of blogs it will showcase how this country ticks almost every box!

Before setting off on the voyage of discovery, BI WORLDWIDE learnt that age and lack of up-to-date knowledge plays a key role in perceptions of the country.  It is true that in the past Rwanda has endured tremendous pain. In 1994 the inhabitants experienced a tribal unrest where 100 days of conflict ensued. The impact and outcome of this has only made the country that much stronger. While you may not be aware, Rwanda has become the phoenix that has risen from the ashes to become an emerging star of Africa.

In order to understand the country’s history and address the subject that appears to be holding people back from travelling to Rwanda, Katrina and Teresa visited The Kigali Genocide Memorial.  This was a very poignant moment for them both and provided a good grounding and understanding of the past history in order to acknowledge how the country has reformed and made positive steps for the future.

Whilst at the Memorial, Katrina and Teresa were shown videos of survivors sharing their personal stories. Teresa comments: “It is still so hard to comprehend what happened in Rwanda back in 1994. The introductory video of personal accounts was emotionally powerful and it was hard not to empathise and shed a tear with those being interviewed. Whilst the museum is a sombre exhibition to witness, the concluding video of the same survivors from the initial video gave tremendous hope for humanity. The people of Rwanda live and breathe love, unity, community and compassion.  There is no divide, no hate, no revenge; just a true sense of peace and moving forwards together for the better. We left feeling inspired and in awe of a nation that has overcome adversity with exceptional positivity.”

In one of the videos, a local shared: “We now look at what people need and not what they are. If you share hatred, hatred grows, if you share love, love grows.”

We are one people. We speak one language, we have one history. This chapter is a bitter part of our lives but one we must remember for those we lost and for the sake of the future. This is about our past and our future; our nightmares and dreams; our fear and our hope; which is why we begin where we end, with the country we love .

  • Genocide Memorial
  • Kigali

Quoted as a “bad dream”, it is hard to think that the Rwanda of today could have ever experienced what it did. There has been a remarkable recovery within Rwanda and it is clear to see the deep-rooted community spirit and strong progression plans.

Katrina comments: “It has been 23 years since the unrest and what we see from Rwanda today is a country of tribal unity, political stability and a very promising future. It has been named as one of the safest capitals in Africa and the locals described as ‘law abiding’.  From everything we experienced, it is safe, clean and green with honest, open and friendly locals who offer impeccable service at every touch point.  I felt completely at ease there and inspired by their positive approach to life.”

Carol Namatovu from Green Route Africa adds, “Rwanda has made a tremendous recovery.  The history and contrast to life today is actually a selling point. People come with no expectations and leave being blown away by what the country has to offer, providing feedback saying that it is THE place to go!  People are still interested in visiting the mountain gorillas, but now it isn’t the only draw and they want to explore more of the country.”

Part of Rwanda’s positive approach and optimistic spirit lies in giving back to the community and at the end of each month everyone is required to give up a morning to volunteer in an initiative called Umuganda. Katrina and Teresa were fortunate to participate in Umuganda, which turned out to be an incredible and humbling experience for them both. Read our next blog to learn more.

Check out Katrina and Teresa's pictures on our Pinterest board.

In:sight on Rwanda: Community spirit and culture

In:sight on Rwanda: Amongst the wilderness

In:sight on Rwanda: What it has to offer for the MICE industry

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