We have just three months left till we open our brand-new lodge in Rwanda. Bisate opens in June 2017 and the final stages of the lodge development are well underway.
Those involved in the building and running of the lodge are hard at work and on any given day there are around 250 staff working on site!
Ingrid and Rob Baas, incoming General Managers of Bisate, keep us updated on the building process, current projects, challenges and highlights…
Reforestation at Bisate:
We can proudly say that we have done very well with our reforestation efforts. Over 2 000 trees were planted in the previous five weeks, bringing the total number of trees planted to date to 12591.
- 1019 Hagenia
- 1214 Dombeya
- 383 Neoboutonia
- 2644 Alnus
- 5539 Bamboo
- 157 Lobelia
- 1640 Eucalyptus
Most of these trees have been planted close to the lodge site. It is important that we plant as many trees as possible before the next big rains in April to ensure that the trees have a good start with lots of rain!
A milestone this month was finalising our Bisate team! We received over 850 applications in response to our advertisements via online and newspaper platforms and have conducted more than 120 interviews. All employees, with the exception of Rob and myself, are from Rwanda. Our aim was to employ as many community members as possible to support the local community and increase employment opportunities. Roughly half of the Bisate team members are from the surrounding communities. For example, Jacques our new security guard, was born on the top of the Bisate Hill!
Some of our key staff members start on 15 March. Together with our Wilderness staff in Botswana and Zambia we have scheduled training periods in different camps. Six Bisate staff will be hosted at Toka Leya, Vumbura Plains, Kings Pool and Abu Camp respectively. This will give them the knowledge and experience to be able to train the rest of our growing team.
The people we have met have all been positive and enthusiastic about learning and developing new skills. We are therefore developing an intensive training schedule.
Our first English class for staff employed from local communities began on 20 February. We have two daily classes, one for beginners and one for intermediate learners, and we can already see that the level of English is improving. Our English teacher is from the Bisate community and has recently graduated from the University of Kigali. He will have a position within the lodge when it opens and continue to work in our training department.
One of our biggest challenges this month has been to find suppliers. There is no one ‘go to point’ so we are in the process of finding out where best to get supplies. Shop A can give us bacon, Shop B herbs and so on… The search continues!
Building the Lodge:
As the six guest villas and the main area slowly take shape, the construction process is a huge and exciting challenge. Building a lodge on a steep, eroded volcano in rainy conditions literally by hand is something that has not been done before by Wilderness Safaris and we are learning a lot from this. On an average day we have over 250 local workers on site. So as not to damage the site with cranes and trucks, the building takes place on foot: step by step, rock by rock… It’s such a unique project.
We are excited to introduce our Deputy Manager of Bisate – Anita Umutoni. Born in Nairobi, Anita is the firstborn of her family and has four siblings. She lives with her mother who singlehandedly raised the five of them after her father passed away when she was eight. Her mother’s hard work inspired Anita and she is very independent.
Anita grew up in Rwanda, studying hospitality in Kigali. She loves to travel and has travelled to Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Burundi, USA and the United Arab Emirates. She worked in Dubai for the Marriott for four years, before working at the Marriott in Kigali.
She is looking forward to her training in the Wilderness Camps and is expecting to learn more about the Wilderness Safaris culture, vision, mission and business structure. “I am aiming to pass my knowledge on to the entire Bisate Lodge team so that we become the most favourable lodge in Rwanda and the entire East African region.
“I want to be part of the Bisate Lodge family because of the values of Wilderness Safaris: putting people first (guests and staff), giving back to the community and taking care of the environment by conserving nature and wildlife. I will have the opportunity to perform in a variety of duties at Bisate, which will give me the chance to be challenged and learn new skills. I want to be part of the growth of the company and the country.”
In March we will be busy developing our training and induction programme for the Bisate team as well as finalising the staff village and training centre.
The building of the staff village is almost ready. We aim to be ready on 1 April to move to Bisate with the entire staff team to begin onsite training.
Six of our staff will be travelling this month for training. We are very excited as for many of them it will be their first time leaving Rwanda and their first time on a plane!
Written by Rob and Ingrid Baas