In a few weeks our offices in Kigali and Bujumbura will be receiving some guests. That's not really news since we are frequented with visitors, auditors, technical advisers, etc. on a very regular basis. The interesting thing is that these visitors are going to be arriving by kayak.
Several weeks ago our external relations person from NY notified me that a kayak trip in Africa was being planned which is intended to be some sort of an adventure film with a highlight on humanitarian work. We have been asked to participate (unfortunately not in the kayaking) in providing some logistical support and interesting testimonials in exchange for some possible good exposure in the film. The trip is being sponsored by a well-known outdoor clothing company (which I will not reveal at this time). The voyage is intended to pass through a handful of countries in this region including a segment on the Rusizi River which ends on the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika just outside of Bujumbura.
Without dedicating a tremendous amount of time to this project (since it's outside the realm of what we're specifically funded to do), it is important to work with people like this to not only raise awareness for the work that our organization is doing, but also to continue to remind people in the Western world that their comfortable lifestyles are not the norm for the majority of the people on this planet. Maybe a third helpful aspect to this adventure is that the world should be more exposed to the amazing beauty of this continent. The only footage that most of the world sees of Africa consists of AIDS victims, war, starving children, etc. While that stuff certainly exists, it is NOT reflective of what this continent is about as a whole. In my travels to nine African countries, I have been astounded by the breathtaking scenery and warm people in every single country. I do wish that more of the world could experience that side of this continent. Ok, end of Africa promo.
One thing that was a bit funny when working with my Administration Manager on some of the logistics was that she didn't know what a kayak was. I tried to explain that it was sort of like a small boat similar to the indigenous ones here but with a few very different characteristics. I failed in my explanation so I drew a picture on the whiteboard in my office. My lack of artistic skill leads me to believe that she still has no idea what these little "boats" are all about. If they do end up storing their kayaks on our office compound, it's quite likely they'll be an object of curiosity. Just the description of people wanting to float hundreds of kilometers in small boats on somewhat dangerous waters (crocodiles and bad guys - in the last few weeks 22 dead bodies were found on the Rusizi not far from here, at least one decapitated) with no intention fishing is a curious endeavor in and of itself. We're hosting them here for a couple days so they'll likely have some good stories to share if they make it here in one piece.