Humure refugee community
Today, the people of Humure and Ramiro – in collaboration with NDA – are happy to offer visitors the chance to participate in their community activities. The villagers are among the poorest and most disad-vantaged members of Rwandan society, but the tidiness in their self-constructed little homes and their warm natural hospitality are absolutely captivating. Moreover, they are very excited to host visitors be-cause it offers them a variety of opportunities. In fact, a participatory dream-mapping exercise revealed a number of dreams that the community pursues, and the villagers soon decided that the hosting of visitors would be an important contribution to reaching them. In collaboration with and under the leadership of the community and through participative techniques that focused on local empowerment, the following experi-ences developed:
Upon arrival – possibly after an early morning safari in the park – visitors are welcomed with a short thea-ter play that introduces the refugee background, the lives led in Tanzania and the rebirth of the village community in Rwanda. This is followed by a question-and-answer session where the villagers are eager to share more about their personal stories and experiences.
After this introduction, visitors will follow their local guide through the village area in order to learn more about the community’s cooperatives. Stops include the following:
- The “Milk Bar” where visitors can learn about the Tanzanian traditions of preparing milk: Cooperative members will offer different types of milk and explain their traditional recipes.
- The bee keepers: Cooperative members explain the traditional African way of producing honey. Visi-tors can explore the construction of local beehives that are made out of wood, bamboo and banana leaves. They will further have the opportunity to taste the delicious locally-made honey.
- The art of tie dying: Cooperative members explain this fine art, and visitors can also learn about the production of naturally fragranced soap
- Lunch at a traditional Rwandan house: Visitors and hosts enjoy a local buffet lunch as well as tradi-tional drinks, including the local sorghum beer.
- The village savings cooperative: Members of this extraordinary cooperative explain their innovative systems of communal money savings and the distribution of loans to other members.
- Agriculture: On the way to the nearby Lake Ihema, the local guide explains agricultural methods as well as the crops that are common in the area. Visitors further learn about the most common chal-lenges, including drought and hippo invasions
- Ubusabane get-together party: Upon their return to the village, visitors will join their hosts in a tradi-tional get-together ceremony with local instruments, dancing, the famous game igisoro and other cul-tural experiences.
Variations of the experiences are possible. The villagers are also working on opportunities to spend the night in the community. Further opportunities are related to volunteering activities.
It is fundamental to NDA’s philosophy to involve as many members of the community as possible and to benefit particularly the disadvantaged. The community is, therefore, empowered to manage much of the experience itself. Apart from a variety of immaterial benefits, financial benefits accrue to the community in the following three ways:
- Various community members and their cooperatives participate directly in the tourism experience and, thereby, benefit through the creation of income-generating opportunities. Several villagers are trained to rotate on existing opportunities so that benefits are further spread and more individuals have exposure to the visitors and the benefits that they bring with them.
- A fixed percentage of the benefits go to a Community Development Fund which is jointly managed by the Tourism Cooperative and NDA. By the end of the year, the people of Humure and Ramiro can de-cide in a democratic way how to best use this money, with NDA and the Tourism Cooperative keeping a veto right.
- Visitors are further encouraged to buy locally made products, such as milk pots, honey or soap. In order to guarantee an income from such purchases to the community, NDA engages in buying one milk pot for every visitor. This milk pot can be offered to the visitor as a ‘gift’ from the community, even though it is covered by the overall package price. Benefits of these sales also accrue to the Commu-nity Development Fund.