Wellspring, Wands and Umuganda

Hi Everyone! Danielle here. We’ll be taking turns posting on the blog as we go so I volunteered to kick things off.

We’ve had a great start to our trip here in Kigali. Most of the crew has arrived and we’ve been spending our time getting to know each other and preparing for the journey ahead.

Yesterday we visited the Wellspring team. It’s an organization that’s dear to my heart and though I’ve been involved for a few years, I was still blown away by the team and all that we learned, saw and experienced yesterday. And we never even left the office! I can’t wait to head out to Rubavu tomorrow to experience Wellspring’s work in the school district of Rwanda’s western province.

Today is the last Saturday of the month - Umuganda. Umuganda is the Rwandan practice of community service. Every month, the entire country comes together to work on civil projects like public building maintenance and street cleaning. Since 2007 Umuganda has collectively contributed an estimated $60 million (USD) to the country’s development. It’s a way for the country to come together and work together in unity. While we didn’t participate ourselves (though many expats and visitors do), we waited until after Umuganda to get out on the road.

To prepare for the ride ahead, the group did a quick loop on the bikes around our neighbourhood this morning. After a trip briefing by Andrew, the team got a chance to pick their bikes. I made the comparison to Harry Potter in Ollivander’s wand shop (let the wand choose the wizard...let the bike choose the rider) which was sadly lost on everyone but Kaitlyn. Once the riders were on their bikes, the next challenge was getting them out of the parking lot. If anyone has been to Wellspring, you’ll know that this lot features a steep gradient and some treacherous gravel. Andrew and Andy both agreed that the lot may actually be the most challenging part of the entire ride.

Thankfully we left the parking lot without incident and the riders were on their way. Andrew and I followed in ‘Herbie’ (the support car) and were impressed by how great everyone looked on the bikes for the first time. Africa Twins are no small bike - 750 cc - but everyone agreed they handle well and are a smooth ride. After a couple loops through the winding residential valley, we reconvened at the parking lot to celebrate a successful first ride. All in all a great start to the trip and it has us excited for the adventure to come!