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ActionAid Rwanda First Hand Experience

29th Jul 2022 - 6th Aug 2022

9 days/Rwanda /Project Trip


The Project
You will help build a new classroom block to help children get the education that they need.

Access to education and low literacy levels remain huge barriers for those living in poverty in Rwanda. Due to a lack of funding, there is an urgent need for a new classroom at the Group Scolaire Muko in Musanze District.

Whilst the number of students increase each year, there is not enough space to accommodate them all causing classrooms to become overcrowded. This makes it very difficult for the children to concentrate and learn, leading to poor performance and dropouts, further exacerbating the cycle of poverty.

About Rwanda
Rwanda is an East African country which shares borders with Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This mountainous country is known as ‘the land of a thousand hills’ and with majestic undulating landscapes sweeping as far as the eye can see, you can understand why. Home to some of the world’s remaining gorilla population, numerous primates and other animals, Rwanda is a huge draw for wildlife tourists across the globe. The thriving capital, Kigali, is clean, modern and safe and offers visitors a warm welcome upon arriving in this landlocked African nation. More than 20 years since the devastating 1994 genocide, which saw approximately 1 million people slaughtered, Rwanda has embraced a forward-thinking and positive attitude and is leading the way in Africa on several environmental and conservation issues. Rwanda is a must-visit destination.

Situated at an altitude of 1567m in the centre of the country, Kigali is home to just under 1 million people. A highlight of a visit to Kigali includes wandering through the markets which are a delight for foodies where you can gaze at the fresh fruit and vegetables, vibrant spices, grains and other produce as well as locally produced crafts, clothes and other handicrafts. Perhaps stop for a mug of Rwandan-grown coffee or tea at one of the small cafés, and enjoy people watching. It is worth a visit to the Genocide Memorial, where visitors can learn about the 1994 atrocity and hear how Rwanda has moved forwards to the modern, strong and stable country it is today.


You don’t need any building experience to take part — just enthusiasm, a willingness to work hard and the desire to make a difference!

You will be assisted at the project by project co-ordination staff and will be under the direction of an ActionAid construction supervisor and skilled local craftsmen. You will also be accompanied by an ActionAid representative and a first aid trained Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

Rwanda has a temperate tropical climate with cooler conditions than other parts of Africa due to the average altitude. August temperatures range from lows of 16°C and highs of 28°C (historical average based on Kigali). The weather at this time of year is generally dry although some brief showers can occur before drying up rapidly. Climate change has had an impact on conditions in Rwanda so it is important to be prepared for a variation of conditions. Please check the local weather forecast before travel for a more accurate guideline on the conditions you can expect.

Cuisine in Rwanda comprises mainly dishes formed from staples grown in the local area such as maize, banana, plantain, potato, pulses, beans, rice and cassava. Meat is not eaten in great quantities, although those who live near Lake Kivu eat a lot of fish. If meat is eaten, kebab-style snacks such as brochette or nyama choma (roasted meat) is popular. Ugali, a bland, stiff maize porridge, is eaten with most meals, often to mop up sauce from dishes or even being used as a spoon or sorts, to pick up mouthfuls of stew. Buffet style lunches are very popular amongst Rwandan people, although please note that these are not an ‘all you can eat’ affair; you should fill your plate according to your appetite and only visit the buffet once. Fresh fruit is widely available in Rwanda, including huge avocadoes, oranges, mangoes and more.

You will stay in hotels throughout the trip, on a twin or triple-share basis.

Western-style toilets are found in hotels, guesthouses and restaurants catering to foreign visitors, however facilities may be more basic in remote areas and at the project where squat toilets may be used. You should take toilet paper with you wherever you go but it is customary to dispose of this in the bin provided rather than putting it into the toilet itself.

The minimum age is 18 (or 16-17 if accompanied by an adult). There is no upper age limit.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP.

In the event that your medical issues at the time of booking represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your booking will not be confirmed and the deposit will be refunded.

We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.

Clothing & Footwear

Shoes/trainers for sightseeing
Tops for project (t-shirt/shirt)
Trousers/shorts for project
Socks and underwear
Sun hat
Buff ( or bandana
Light waterproof jacket or poncho
Lightweight warm jacket
Casual clothes for sightseeing

Safari Extension Items

Light colour top (long sleeve)
Light colour bottoms (long leg)
Light colour socks
Binoculars (optional)


Ear plugs
Eye mask (optional)
Lightweight pyjamas

Build-Specific Gear

Building boots with steel toe caps*
Building gloves x3 pairs
Eye goggles
Dust masks
Hard hat
Knee pads/kneel mat (optional)


Flight e-tickets
Passport & copy
Rwanda visa
Pen for immigration forms
Cash / ATM + credit card(s)
Mobile phone and charger
Travel insurance information
Camera and charger
Portable power back
Adaptor (3 square UK plug)
Copy of all documents (online too)


Wet wipes*
Bio-degradable Shampoo + conditioner*
Toothbrush + toothpaste*
Antiperspirant deodorant*
Bio-degradable shower gel + loofah*
Toilet paper*
Sun block (SPF 30+)*
Lip balm with SPF protection*
Moisturiser/body lotion*
Razors/shaving foam
Hand sanitizer
Feminine hygiene products*
Nail brush
Spare glasses/contact lenses
Beach towel (optional)


Head torch (LED)
Video Camera + charger
iPod/MP3 player
Books/diary/playing cards
Sewing kit


Small rucksack/day bag
Suitcase or rucksack (for flights)
Combination padlock(s)
Luggage organisers (optional)

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks (optional)
Water bottle (at least 1 litre)
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. Nuun)
Water purification (optional)

First Aid Kit

Prescription medicine
Anti-malaria medication
Insect repellent (max. 50% DEET)
Paracetamol / Ibuprofen
Imodium (Loperamide)
Rehydration (Dioralyte)
Muscle rub (Deep Heat)
Blister plasters (e.g. Compeed)
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
Nail scissors/tweezers (optional)

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact

*Please ensure you pack your boots in your hand baggage in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed or goes missing.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.


Day 1 (Friday 29 July 2022):

International Departure
You will fly from London to Rwanda’s capital city Kigali on an indirect overnight flight. Your ActionAid representative will be at the airport to give you your e-tickets, assist you with check-in and travel with you.
Accommodation: Overnight flight

Day 2 (Saturday 30 July 2022):

Arrival in Kigali
Upon arrival in Kigali this morning you will be met on arrival at the airport and transfer to a central hotel. After settling in and having lunch at the hotel we set off for a sightseeing tour, including visits to the Genocide Memorial and Reconciliation Village. This evening we will have a welcome dinner and briefing.
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Lunch at hotel, dinner at a local restaurant

Day 3 (Sunday 31 July 2022):

Kigali to Shingiro
After an early breakfast this morning we set off for Shingiro, where we will stay for the next 6 nights (approx. 3 hours’ drive). You will spend the next four days on the build site, building a much-needed classroom block at Group Scolaire school.
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast at hotel, lunch at local restaurant and dinner at hotel

Days 4 – 8 (Monday 1 – Friday 5 August 2022):

Assist at the ActionAid project 
Every morning after breakfast you will transfer to the project to continue your work. You will be fully briefed on site at the beginning of each working day on the challenge ahead. Tasks will depend on the stage of building you arrived for, but you could be digging foundations, clearing land, mixing concrete or mortar, laying bricks or blocks, helping to install window or door frames, painting or plastering. You will be working alongside the local people and you will be under the direction of an ActionAid construction supervisor and skilled local craftsmen. There is no requirement to have any specific training or skills in advance of travel, and we find the sharing of local techniques just a small part of the engagement between community members and our supporters.

You will never be asked to do anything outside your physical capabilities and teamwork will be encouraged throughout. No volunteer should feel they have to do something they are not happy or comfortable doing. There are many tasks on a building site so ask the supervisor for jobs you feel comfortable with. Be open and honest if you feel you cannot do what you have been asked to. If you do have any reservations about any job you are assigned, please do not hesitate to raise these with the construction supervisor.

The days will be scheduled around the local working hours and appropriate temperatures throughout the day. A packed lunch will be provided on site followed by more building and evening meals will be taken at the hotel or at local restaurants. One afternoon there may be an opportunity to visit another ActionAid project.
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast at hotel, packed lunch and dinner at hotel or local restaurant

Day 9 (Saturday 6 August 2022):

Shingiro to Kigali for international flight back to UK
You will transfer back to Kigali airport this morning for your indirect flight back to London. Flight may land the following day depending on the flight schedules.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel


Day 9 (Saturday 6 August 2022):

Shingiro to Bwindi (Uganda)
Say farewell to the rest of the team and head to the Cyanika boarder to Uganda. Once formalities have been completed, we will continue to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to several families of gorillas and offering some of the best opportunities to spot gorillas in the wild. Our base for the next few days will be the Rushaga Gorilla Camp. You’ll have the afternoon to relax and learn more about park from local rangers.
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: breakfast at hotel, lunch at local restaurant and dinner at hotel

Day 10 (Sunday 7 August 2022):

Today we will split into small groups, giving everyone the chance to take part in a trek to see the gorillas. Accompanied by rangers from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, you’ll venture into the heart of the forest in search of the families. This could take between one and 3 hours depending on their location and local conditions.
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel

N.B. You must be on a reasonable level of fitness to participate in the gorilla trek. You will be trekking through primary forest, not on maintained trails. The terrain will be uneven, possibly slippery and may be steep in places. You should wear neutral coloured clothing and hiking boots. You may be required to take a local medical examination before the trek; if anyone has symptoms of a cold, flu or sickness they will not be permitted to trek as human diseases can easily spread to gorillas. In such a situation your permit would NOT be refundable.

Day 11 (Monday 8 August 2022):

Bwindi to Kigali
Depart Bwindi after breakfast for the return journey across the border, back to Kigali for our final night in Rwanda.
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: breakfast at hotel, lunch at a local restaurant and dinner at the hotel

Day 12 (Tuesday 9 August 2022):

Kigali to London
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to London. Flight may land the following day depending on the flight schedules.
Meals: breakfast at hotel

N.B. The itineraries may change due to unusual weather patterns, flight schedules, and the ability of the group and so on. We will do our best to keep to the set itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for changes that might occur outside of our control. In all such circumstances your charity representative, build manager and tour leader will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £400
Pledged fundraising target £3,200

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The fundraising amount must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.
  • ActionAid will support you in reaching your fundraising target

Optional Bwindi Gorilla Safari Extension

£1,185 per person in twin accommodation (based on min. 10 participants)*
Single supplement is an additional £85 per person

*For groups of fewer than 10 a £210 surcharge may apply.
Please note that depending on the final group size a single supplement of £85 may be applied to your booking, or you may be accommodated in a triple-occupancy room.

Cost includes: All transfers in Rwanda and Uganda, hotel accommodation (2-3*) in twin rooms, all meals throughout, 24 hour emergency support in Uganda, Rwanda and the UK, Gorilla trekking permit (rate correct at time of writing. Please note that if permit costs increase you will need to pay the difference).

NB. Optional trip extensions are subject to availability and flight costs.

What's included

  • Return flights from London to Kigali
  • Current airport taxes and charges
  • Local transfers and transport
  • Accommodation in a 2-3* hotels
  • Meals as specified
  • Local project materials and co-ordination staff
  • ActionAid representative
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any necessary vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis
  • Rwanda Visa (currently US$30 single entry, or US$100 for an East Africa Tourist visa – required if taking part in the extension)
  • Personal expenses (drinks, laundry, souvenirs etc)
  • Tips
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal equipment
  • Optional Bwindi Gorilla Safari

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.