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A memorable trip to Kenya and Uganda has led to a plethora of support from those who participated on the adventure as well as from many supporters back home in Alberta. Earlier this year Edmonton-based Network Travel customized and escorted a 17-day safari in Kenya with a four-day extension to experience a gorilla trek in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
“I continued on and escorted the 11 guests [who stayed on] to experience the gorilla trek. Within our Uganda group we had four guests with spouses from the Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta,” said Rick MacSwain, Managing Director of Network Travel. “During our stay at the Ride 4 A Woman lodge we were invited to see their training centre with ladies sewing, weaving baskets and learning new skills. Some of the sewing machines were electric and some were powered by foot pedals. We were curious as to why the power was flickering and interrupting the ladies at work.”
Naturally curious, the electrical contractors asked to see the power source for the lodge and discovered that the older electrical generator was sitting on a truck tire to absorb the vibrations.
“Unfortunately, they had outgrown their generator and were in need of a replacement in order to support the objective of assisting the women in the community,” MacSwain explained. “When we started our fundraiser idea that day in Uganda, we thought we could invite our safari group as a get together and raise a bit of money to purchase a new generator. We had no idea that support would come from people like the Lt. Governor of Alberta, the members at Rotary Mayfield Edmonton, the Edmonton community, and of course our original safari group of 30.”
The group has organized a fundraiser event to purchase a new electrical generator and support Ride 4 A Woman taking place at the Telus World of Science on Sept. 7 in Edmonton.
“This cooperative lodge was created for the purpose of supporting local women struggling with HIV, domestic violence, and poverty. The lodge empowers and educates women in the local communities so they can better support their families and provide an education for their children,” he said. “During our stay at the Ride 4 A Woman lodge our group was invited to a special outdoor lunch with dancing and a presentation provided by the ladies of community. They told stories about how they came to the lodge for assistance. One lady told her story about how her mother had passed away when she was young, leaving her, as the oldest sibling to support the family. She explained how her father had sexually abused the girls and later turned the family away to fend for themselves. She later tested positive with HIV. With nowhere to go, she went to Ride 4 A Women for help.”
The story resonated with the group, who wondered how they could make a lasting impact beyond providing a financial donation.
“We asked what the greatest asset for a family would be and were told a goat is one of the most valuable assets,” he shared. “A goat provides milk, cheese and valuable fertilizer for the growth of the banana plants. Our group purchased 20 goats for the community. The cost of one goat is US$80 and therefore very expensive in this remote community.”
MacSwain encourages travellers embarking on a gorilla trek to support communities in the region and interact with local people during their stay.
“While traveling from the small airport in Uganda to the Ride 4 A Woman lodge in Bwindi we stopped on the side of the road to purchase some bananas. Our driver was negotiating in Swahili and laughing. When we got back in our vehicle, I asked our driver what was so funny. He said that lady has never been that close to a white man in her life. When travellers visit the area, they don’t interact with the local communities. They go directly to the lodge, experience the gorilla trek and return directly to the airport without stopping,” he noted. “People in these areas and throughout the world just want to work hard to feed their families and be happy. As visitors it’s important to experience, interact and share with the local people.”
To learn more about the fundraiser visit: https://networktravel.ca/.
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