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Tubakunde Trust, Tubakunde Project and Excel School

Musanze, Rwanda

Tubakunde Trust
Tubakunde Project
Excel School


The Trust is run from the home of Mark and Diana Elsdon in New Malden, Surrey. There is a network of supporters across the country with main centres of activity, aside from Surrey, in Sussex, York and Pam’s home in the north-east. The Trust exists solely to fundraise and channel the money raised to support the real work which is being done in Africa.

A landlocked republic of central and eastern Africa, lying a few degrees south of the Equator, bordering Uganda to the north; Tanzania to the east; Burundi to the south; and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is little larger than Wales). The capital Kigali, is located near centre of the country.
It is one of the most densely populated counties in Africa and has a predominately young population, the vast majority of people being under 65 and more than half of those under 16.
One in five children is likely to die before their fifth birthday, often from malaria or some disease such as a chest infection which would not be a problem in the UK where there are adequate healthcare professionals and easy access to relatively simple medications. HIV/AIDS prevalence is now declining due to government policies.
The main religion is Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic) with less than 5% of the population being Muslim or other religious beliefs. Traditional African religion accounts for 0.1% of these but many view the Christian God as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana.
Ethnic groups are no longer mentioned or featured in identity documents as the Government strives to put the Genocide of just over twenty years ago behind them.
Already a member of the United Nations, Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in November 2009.
There are three official languages spoken (and taught at Excel School) Kinyarwanda, French and English.
The terrain consists of mountains (mostly dormant volcanoes) and gently rolling hills, with plains and swamps in east – there are no railways in the country because of the constructional problems involved in going round the mountains or tunneling under them. The highest point is Mount Karisimbi at 4,507 metres.
Rwanda is noted for lakes, particularly Lake Kivu which occupies the floor of the Rift Valley along most of the western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There is a temperate climate due to the high elevation which allows lush vegetation to flourish in the volcanic soil. There two rainy seasons a year, February to June and September to December and two dry seasons in between. Situated just south of the equator there is very little variation in day length throughout the year and no defined seasons as we know them.
It is a country of few natural resources but since the end of the Genocide, it has enjoyed political and social stability, (under President, Paul Kagame), which has permitted development of agriculture, roads, tourism, and mining industries. Nevertheless large numbers still live in poverty as subsistence farmers.
There is abundant wildlife, including the rare mountain gorillas, which have chiefly driven the fast-growing tourism sector.
Traditional housing styles use locally available materials to build circular or rectangular mud homes with grass-thatched roofs being the most common. There is a government programme to replace these with modern materials eg corrugated iron which can be seen dotted across the countryside.
Traditional arts and crafts produced throughout country mostly originated as functional items rather than purely decoration. Woven baskets and bowls are especially common. The south east is noted for imigongo, a unique cow dung art. The dung is mixed with natural soils of various colours and painted into patterned ridges, forming geometric shapes. Other crafts include pottery and wood carving.
Crops grown include coffee, tea, pyrethrum, bananas, beans, sorghum and potatoes. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export, high altitudes, steep slopes and volcanic soils provide favourable conditions.
The cuisine is based on local staple foods bananas, plantains, pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Many do not eat meat more than a couple of times a month, but fish from the many lakes is fairly plentiful.
The Rwandans have lots of milk and sugar in tea, boiling the tea bags in the milk rather than steeping them in boiling water as is done in the UK.

Musanze District
The Tubakunde Project is based in Musanze, a district in the Northern Province of Rwanda near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its capital city is Ruhengeri, which is also sometimes known as Musanze. It is Rwanda's most mountainous district, containing the largest part of the Volcanoes National Park. Five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga chain are within the district boundaries. It is in this district that most of Rwanda's mountain gorillas are found, making it the most popular tourist destination in the country and thus the area with the most luxurious hotels as well as more basic accommodation.
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