We recently went to Rwanda with 57 vegan travelers and Debra, one of our travelers said it best when she said; “This journey to Rwanda was life-changing for me.”
So, why does Rwanda have this impact on so many of its visitors? Why does this small East African country leave its mark in such a profound way on people’s hearts? We asked some of our vegan travelers from July 2019 to explain why, we looked through their thoughts and came up with some recurring themes in their replies.
Improving our capacity to forgive those who have done us wrong
As there were over 100,000 people awaiting trial in 2001 (the system had a huge backlog and would have taken over 200 years to hear all the cases the traditional way) a Participatory Justice System — known as Gacaca started. Communities elected judges to hear the trials of genocide suspects accused of all crimes except planning of genocide or rape. The Gacaca courts gave lower sentences if the person was repentant and sought reconciliation with the community. These courts are intended to help the community participate in the process of justice and reconciliation for the country.
As one of our travelers J said, ‘I’ll never forget our guide at Nyamata saying “ when you forgive you are free from the hurt. It made me rethink grudges I’ve held, negative thoughts. If they can forgive and move on anyone can.’
Slow Down, Keep Calm
From our observations, Rwanda time is different to our own. Don’t get us wrong, things get done, they have a high level of customer service and requests are responded to in a timely manner, but there really is an unhurried feel to everything. No-one is running about like crazy and desperately trying to multitask and maximize every minute. This is surely something that we could all need a bit of help with.
Practice gratitude for what we have
S from our trip says “The trip has made me look at everything through new eyes… particularly the things that we take for granted but are so precious…clean drinking water at the turn of a tap; electricity in every home; the quality of the infrastructure here in Europe”.
Taking the time to be grateful for the positive things in our lives and for the things we take for granted can have a profound impact on our happiness.
A desire to connect with our real life neighbours and community
S – “The sense of community was so strong in Rwanda…something we’ve lost in part due to the nature of the way we live our lives.”
Once you hear about the concept of Umuganda, you just want to take it back with you and you also can’t help but wonder what might happen if Umuganda was mandatory in your own country. Could it make people less lonely? Would the forgotten members of our community become more visible and more valuable? Could it heal divisiveness?
You cannot come to Rwanda without seeing the impact of people taking the time to help each other and organisations helping Rwandan people (and animals come to that). People make it a priority in their lives to be of service to those around them and the joy that they get from it.
So, Rwanda is a special place. It’s not just about chimps, an hour with gorillas or seeing elephants from the water, it’s a place to rediscover parts of you that you might have taken a backseat.
If you are interested in our life changing trips please see our current offerings and while you are over there, make sure you are on our mailing list to get all our news and find out if and when we go back to Rwanda.