Strange faces, new places: Ngila’s journey to the Rufford conference

Feb 27, 2014 | Categories: Staff | 3 Comments

Earlier this month, Ngila Ltenesi, Ewaso Lions Community Officer, traveled to Rwanda to participate in the Regional Conference of the Grantees of the Rufford Small Grants. Below he shares his life changing adventure.

On February 5th, I traveled by bus from Kenya to Kigali city in Rwanda. I was representing Ewaso Lions at the Regional Conference of the Grantees of the Rufford Small Grants.

It was the most strange journey for me ever. I saw new things like Lake Victoria – we drove on top of a bridge with so much water under us. I was scared because I was not used to traveling alone in big cities. I was silent in the bus that I thought I could keep my secrets alone so that the passengers should not mislead me or rob me. The inspections at the borders of the countries were very strange to me – we had to be checked and there were many different places where my papers were to be stamped.

What was amazing is at the Rwanda border, they told us that we were not allowed to carry any plastic bags in to the country. They searched our bags and removed the plastic they found. I found that amazing as they are very strict to make sure that Rwanda remains clean. But they took all my bags.

The bus stopped in the middle of a huge city. Vehicles were like butterflies on rose flowers. It was a paradise for my eyes that I have ever seen. Kigali city was extraordinary beautiful – green and wet. Tall trees were piled in straight lines and flowers in every corner. To my surprise I dropped out of the bus with a big crowd of people that I was traveling with.

We stood for a while confused, not knowing where to go. Then in the meantime, a young man of my age arrived. His name was Alphonse Karenzi and he is the Chairman of Rufford East Africa Conference. He called us – “Are you my guests for the Rufford conference?” We answered yes. I was shocked that the people in the bus that I was scared to talk to were in fact my conference people!

Participants at the Rufford Small Grants Conference in Rwanda. Photo by Martha Mutiso.

For the two day conference there were participants from all over East Africa and I was happy to see so many fellow Kenyans. We all introduced ourselves and this was followed by the opening ceremony and welcoming the guest of honour by a traditional dance group. We then divided in to four groups sharing project experiences and discussed impacts, achievements and sustainability of different organisations.

On Saturday the 8th, the Director of Tourism and Conservation in Rwanda addressed us about conservation in action. In the afternoon, we shared stories through presentations and looked at photo entries of various projects. We had briefings and task sharing sessions by the teams. We voted for the best photos and the winners were announced by the Director, Mr Josh Cole. We had some local dances after that, followed by closing remarks.

On Sunday, we left the hotel and visited the Kigali Genocide Museum. It was a hard experience that I have ever faced in my life to hear about the genocide as explained by the guard at the door who told us what the genocide was about and what it means. So many people lost their lives. Parents were killed in front of their kids. No one helped them. Many people survived horrible injuries. It was very sad for me to hear this and I wished it never happened to the people of Rwanda.

That evening, we started our journey back to Kenya. I now made friends and knew many people from the conference. I said bye to my new friends. They were worried about me traveling alone to Samburu, but I was ready. I did not want to stay in the busy city of Nairobi, so I left straight away and went to Nanyuki for the night. The next day I arrived at my home in Samburu.

To me, this was a huge experience for me. It was my first time to leave Kenya and during my journey I saw so many parts of Kenya that I have never seen. I saw Uganda and the big city of Kampala and its environment. And then I saw Kigali and was amazed how clean it is. I have made many friends and I met so many people from all over East Africa. I learned a lot through this conference and all the conservation projects taking place in Eastern Africa. It was also my first day to speak in front of so many places. This was the biggest experience for me ever.

> Learn more about Rufford Small Grants

Ngila at the conference in Rwanda. Photo by Martha Mutiso.

3 People have left comments on this post

» Alphonse Karenzi said: { Feb 27, 2014 - 09:02:07 }

Dear Ngilas,
It was very nice to have you in Rwanda! I did very much appreciate your inputs and experience sharing during the conference.. I was personally inspired by your ewasolions work!

Hope to stay in touch!

» Shalini Bhalla said: { Mar 2, 2014 - 08:03:45 }

What an honest, open and vivid account you have given us of your trip Ngila. I really enjoyed reading about your experiences. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

» Susan McConnell said: { Mar 7, 2014 - 02:03:21 }

Ngila, thank you for writing so honestly and beautifully about your trip to Rwanda. I hope that your experiences there will be helpful in your work for Ewaso Lions and for the community that lives in and around Samburu. And thank you for the important work that you are doing for conservation!