Tag: vegan rwanda

Can Garbage Unite a Divided Country?

How Rwanda Unites

Rwanda is considered the cleanest and greenest country in East Africa. It’s not because Rwanda employs more street sweepers, gardeners, and road crews than other countries, and it’s not (only) because of the decade-long ban on plastic bags.

It’s also because of a monthly communal ritual called Umuganda, a Kinyarwanda word that translates to “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.” Military service isn’t compulsory in Rwanda but Umuganda is — for able-bodied people ages 18 to 65 — and it takes place on the last Saturday of each month.

Because expatriates and visitors are welcome to participate and because — on our recent CPG Vegan Trip to Rwanda — we happened to be there on the day of that month’s Umuganda, we arranged to visit a local village to join them build a road.

Umuganda in its current form was reintroduced in 1998 as part of the effort to rebuild the country and to nurture a shared national identity after the 1994 genocide.

As a U.S. citizen in a deeply divided country, it’s not a huge leap to draw parallels between the past divisiveness in Rwanda and the present divisiveness in my own country. If that sounds dramatic, then consider this:

A recent survey (referenced in this op-ed) asked both Republicans and Democrats, “Do you ever think we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died’?” Some 20 percent of Democrats (12.6 million voters) and 16 percent of Republicans (7.9 million voters) said yes.

When asked, “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 presidential election. How much do you feel violence would be justified then?” 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”

Over a 3-month period in 1994 in Rwanda, this very sentiment manifested itself into a methodical massacre in which approximately 800,000 citizens were brutally killed by their fellow citizens—neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and friends.

If Rwandans can heal, unite, and forgive after such a massive atrocity, anyone can. We have much cleaning up to do in our own country—both literally and figuratively, and we must take it seriously.

Garbage clean-up anyone?

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hadley 

How Wildlife is Recovering After Genocide

The 1994 genocide against the Tutsis devastated this beautiful country, its people, its wildlife, and its wild spaces. But with vigilance, persistence, vision, courage, and strength, they are recovering.⁠ When Akagera National Park was created in 1934, it was one of the best wildlife reserves in all of Africa. ⁠

⁠Once spanning almost 1,000 square miles, sadly, in 1997, it was reduced in size by almost 50%. A large portion of the land was reallocated to refugees to Rwanda after the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda settled in the area, and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation. ⁠

⁠I so look forward to telling you more about the work they’re doing, the animals they’ve reintroduced, the conservation measures they’re taking, and the rhinos (!) who have just safely arrived from zoos in three different countries who will now live out their natural lives in the wild. ⁠

⁠On our first trip to Rwanda, we didn’t have the chance to visit Akagera, but we were so thrilled to make it part of our CPG Vegan Rwanda Trips. We saw zebra, warthogs, impala, cape buffalo, waterbucks, and many more mammals and birds. The highlight of the day was probably seeing a ⁠pod of hippos emerge from the water to the beach. ⁠

⁠People can heal. Animals can recover. Land can be restored. Rwanda teaches this lesson better than any other country I’ve seen. ⁠

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*Birds, waterbuck photos by Julie Morgan
*Hippos, zebra, impala, and alligator photos by Lynda Kluck
*Hippos, zebra, impala, and elephant photos by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Vegan Trip to Rwanda!

A DREAM TRIP TO SEE THE GORILLAS
Joyful Vegan Rwanda

Many of you know my love of all animals, including wildlife in my backyard and all around the world. Many of you know that I count Dian Fossey as one of my heroes. Many of you know how amazing it was to travel to Rwanda to see the culmination of her life’s work: thriving families of mountain gorillas protected from poaching because of the continued work of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. (You can listen to my Food for Thought podcast all about our trip.)

Many of you may have heard by now that Portia DiRossi gave Ellen DeGeneres the gift of an education center in her name in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. We’ve been to their current center, and this new one will be an amazing gift for the future of the gorillas.

What many of you may NOT know is that we’re going back to RWANDA — and taking you with me. Because of high demand for another Joyful Vegan Trip to Rwanda, we’ve made it happen.

It’s a 10-day, 5-star, out-of-this world incredible trip to see the mountain gorillas in the north and the chimpanzees in the south (not to mention golden monkeys and many other non-human primates). Frankly, this itinerary BLOWS AWAY our original trip, and I CANNOT wait to return. I fell in love with this country pretty immediately, and if you want to join me…you need to secure your spot NOW.

As you’ll see when you look at the amazing itinerary, the trip is 1.5 years away, which allows for time to save. To do everything we’re doing is not inexpensive, but by going (aside from having invaluable experiences), we’re supporting the conservation of these animals.

We have slots for about 20 people, and several have already been secured. Don’t miss out. Join me for a trip that will change you and help change the world for animals.

GET YOUR FREE JOYFUL VEGAN GUIDE

Includes delicious plant-based recipes and a meal plan!




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