Gorillas, monkeys, zebras, elephants and lions are just a few of the reasons why Rwanda draws big numbers when it comes to tourists. Foreigners flock to Rwanda to explore and enjoy the beauty and diversity found around the country. We have been lucky enough to see quite a bit of Rwanda, but as we traveled throughout we learned that most locals have never visited their own parks.
Flabbergasted that more locals weren’t enjoying their own natural resources, I asked more and more people if they had been. Only about 1 out of every 15 people asked had been to Akagera National Park. Even worse, we couldn’t find 1 local who had been to see the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Every person had the same reason; the entrance fees were too expensive and for most adults they didn’t have any interest in seeing the animals.
Although times are changing, the previous Rwandan mindset was animals are for food or protection only. The idea of paying money to stare at an animal, trees or landscapes was crazy. The new generations tend to have varying beliefs and are more open to exploring the role of animals in their world. In learning that we wanted to find a way to get more young adults and kids to the parks in Rwanda.
Via a quick Google search we were able to find we weren’t the only ones who thought it important to get kids to the parks. Shelly Anne Rosen and Paul Karemera had already designed a plan to do just that. They own and operate Intore Expeditions a travel company in Kigali, Rwanda. They are experts regarding the Rwandan park systems and the best ways to travel in and around Rwanda.
The best part was we had briefly met Shelly Anne and Paul in 2013 at a travel show in Washington, DC, so I had no hesitation reaching out to find out more about their program. Unfortunately, my timing could have been better because she had already placed the order for the fundraising calendars, but it’s never too late to get the word out and help raise more funds.
“Kids to the Parks – Rwanda” is a program which provides round-trip transportation, chaperones, entrance fees, and a guided tour for kids at Akagera National Park. There the kids would have the opportunity to see the Big 5 in their own backyard. The lifelong memories and experiences the kids would walk away with would be priceless. The program opens the door for these kids to a world they may have otherwise never known.
We really believe in this program and wanted to share it with you. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Shelly Anne and Paul at Intore Expeditions.
How YOU can help send kids to the parks
Donations of all amounts can be made through Paypal or you can mail your donation to Intore Expeditions 3970 Evanston Ave N. Seattle, WA 98103
If you are part of a children’s organization or program in Rwanda and would like to send your kids to the parks, please contact Shelly Anne and Paul for further information.
If you have ideas how to help Shelly and Paul raise more money or you would like to share their story please let us know in the comments or contact us direct!
*Photos in this piece courtesy of Shelly Anne at Intore Expeditions, unless otherwise noted.