Reflections

on Rwanda

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect?

Over the years we have collected many of the questions and concerns sent to us about the program. We recognize that this is not an exhaustive list so please feel free to contact us by email if you have any further questions or concerns about our program. 

This program is not for everyone!

It is physically and emotionally demanding. Participants will view sites and hear stories that are disturbing. Therefore, we desire those who have an emotional maturity and can work well with others during difficult periods of time during the trip. It is also worth recognizing that since we will be traveling in a group, patience and kindness are important in order to maintain a positive group dynamic.

The program will be conducted in English, French and Kinyarwanda. Translation will be provided whenever possible. Knowledge of both French and English are therefore an asset, but not required.

 

RoR is not a vacation, nor is it a replacement for a touristic trip to Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Our program was deliberately designed and structured as an educational program to study genocide. It is also designed to keep costs as low as possible by dealing directly with our Rwandan partners. We stay in local accommodations and eat almost entirely in local restaurants. Therefore, participants should not expect tourist class accommodation or restaurants.

Rwanda is a beautiful country with world class tourist attractions and amenities. We encourage all and any interested applicants to consider extending their stay in the country if they wish.

 

Program Requirements

 

  • a current Canadian passport

  • travel insurance

  • release of liability waver (must be signed prior to making the first deposit)

  • availability for scheduled conference calls prior to the program

  • be between the ages of 18 and 35

  • enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, or have completed a post-secondary degree in the past 24 months

 

Please note that we will still consider applications from individuals who do not fall under one of these
categories if a proper explanation is provided to the selection committee.

How do Rwandans feel?

 

Rwandans have been very supportive of the program. We have met with a cross-section of individuals from many areas of the country and were given the same positive responses. We specifically asked many survivors how they felt about this program, and we were told repeatedly that we were very welcome. When we asked one survivor how she felt about Canadians going to Rwanda to visit relevant sites and learn about the country’s troubled past, she responded: “If you could bring every Canadian student, they would all be welcome.”

Is it safe?
Ultimately, the choice to travel there has to be yours.

If you visit the government of Canada’s travel website you will see that in the lead up to the August 2010 Presidential elections, there were a number of grenade attacks in the capital, Kigali, some resulting in fatalities. Moreover, if you followed the election in the Western media, you most certainly would have seen allegations of anti-democratic practices carried out by the present government. We note this not to scare you but so you are aware of the situation on the ground. We work closely with our local Rwandan partners throughout the year and continuously monitor the security situation.

 

Regardless of the destination, any travel comes with certain risks. Rwanda has had a tumultuous past, and is situated in a region where its bordering countries have had recent violence (DRC, Burundi). With that said, however, Rwandans are quick to tell you that their country is one of the safest for travel, and from our experience, we believe this to be true. The streets are secure, the government is stable, and crime is nearly non-existent. Mostly anyone who has visited the country will say something similar: Rwanda is safe.

What do you mean this trip isn’t for everyone? 

I mean I’ve backpacked in Europe and been to Latin America, but I’m not sure what to expect in sub- Saharan Africa.

 

If we are driving from Kigali to Gisenyi (a resort town on Lake Kivu) and the mini bus breaks down or gets a flat tire, CAA isn’t going to be there in 45 minutes, and there won’t be a 7-11 around the corner to buy a snack while you wait. We might be stuck on the side of the road exposed to the elements for several hours.

 

If we are in a more remote area than Gisenyi, our broken down mini bus might become a tourist attraction for the locals. Children may touch you, inspect your straight hair and adults might talk about you. This could either be fun or terrifying depending on how you approach the situation.

 

Our accommodation is always adequate, but do not be surprised if you have a few cold bucket showers and spend a few evenings without electricity. Internet access is still sporadic and roughly equivalent to dial-up speed (although this might improve by the time we arrive). However, your guides will be equipped with cell phones at all times in the event that anyone needs to reach you or we need to reach anyone.


In terms of food, most Westerners enjoy the taste of Rwandan food, but traveler’s diarrhea is not uncommon. Also, while you will be fed three meals a day, we cannot guarantee that you will be eating consistently at 8:00, 12:00 and 17:00 every day. This doesn’t need to be a problem, but it can be. You have to know yourself. If you know that you get hungry often, bring snacks.


None of this is meant to scare you. We believe that anyone, no matter how much (or how little) they have travelled, is capable of participating, so long as they remain flexible and are prepared to place some of their “kitty-comforts” on hold for two weeks.

 

We will be there, along with our local partners, to guide you along the way and to facilitate the experience. If you’re not sure if this program is for you, e-mail us at reflectionsonrwanda@gmail.com and we will be happy to address any concerns.

 

 

A bucket shower involves being given a bucket with water in it – how you turn this into a shower is up to you.

How much will the program cost me?

Depending on a number of factors, including the cost of vaccinations and your location, participants should expect to pay up to a maximum of $2,500-$3,000 CAD, which would include all flights, accommodation, food, and ground travel for the length of the program. The program offers excellent value for money. Know that SHOUT Canada makes no profit. All of your money goes directly to program costs.

 
Because the program is grassroots in nature, we do everything we can to keep costs as low as possible. 

 

 

Below is a breakdown of program costs based on figures from previous programs:

  • Flight from home location to Toronto or Montreal: $0-1,000 (paid and booked directly by participant once dates are finalized)
     

  • Flight from Toronto or Montreal to Kigali: $2,000 CAD (your first payment of $2,000 to SHOUT Canada will pay for this flight. The balance of that payment will be put towards the costs of the ground portion of the travel).
     

  • Travel Insurance: $60-$200 depending on selected coverage and carrier paid directly by participant; each participant must have travel insurance. This is a requirement. (If you are a university student, check with your university to see whether your student health plan covers travel insurance).
     

  • Vaccinations and Visa: $50-$750 paid directly by participant; check to see what vaccinations you already have and/or which ones are covered by your insurance. Visas are paid for at the airport in Kigali upon arrival.
     

  • Ground Portion (Food, Accommodation, Transportation, Incidentals): balance of first payment and a second payment of $950 USD (upon arrival in Kigali, participants will make this second payment to group leaders)

 

How should I go about fundraising?

  • 1. Because RoR is an educational program, there is a possibility that your university may have some funding to help you. Educational institutions often have a budget for overseas internships or educational field trips. Contact your department, Student Union or Financial Aid office to inquire.

  • Once you put your cause out there, many people will be willing to support you. Think about a pub night at your local pub, a garage sale, a bake sale, a donation jar, a GoFundMe.com account, a dinner party for your friends and family. Get creative!

  • Look into non-governmental organizations, particularly those involved in genocide education. Though they may not be able to provide you with funding, they may have suggestions on where to look for funding.

The RoR team will work with participants to create individual financial plans.
We welcome anyone concerned about finances to contact us to talk about the matter.