MamaNelly runs a tiny restaurant in the small fishing village of Nkora on the edge of Lake Kivu, Rwanda. If you join us on a mountain biking tour on the Congo Nile Trail, there’s a good chance you’ll have lunch with her.
Mother of four girls at secondary school, MamaNelly (literally “Nelly’s mother”) has already given her children a better start in life than she was able to enjoy. Born in 1975, she left primary school after four years, when there was no money available in the family to pay for her to continue. But MamaNelly is not the kind of person to sit around doing nothing. Like most girls in Rwanda, she had learnt to cook her family’s meals and she decided to use that knowledge to cater at the weddings of neighbours and friends.
The last few years have introduced her to very different clients: Muzungus! “Muzungu” is the respectful name used to describe Caucasian visitors to Rwanda, but it’s generally used to describe any foreigner. MamaNelly has seen her home town subtly changed as more and more Muzungus travel through, whether hiking or cycling on the Congo Nile Trail.
“I still only have simple cooking facilities (a single charcoal stove and a few pans), but I laugh so much when our guests enjoy local food like Dodo (a green leaf prepared like spinach) or Isambaza (sardines, freshly caught from the lake). It’s also really funny, how much foreigners enjoy Rwandan avocados, which grow everywhere”.
With the extra money that MamaNelly earns from tourists, she has been able to pay for government health insurance for all of her family and she’s working on improving her kitchen so that she can cook more than one thing at a time.
“I am so grateful to Rwandan Adventures because they showed me a better way to earn money and helped me to change in terms of interacting with people of different nationalities”
Rwandan Adventures is a social enterprise: we work to provide employment in rural Rwanda and to support other small businesses in areas which are so far off the beaten track that tourists are a rare sight. Planning your tour with Rwandan Adventures, means that you’ll be supporting these micro businesses. If you would like to experience ManaNelly’s great Rwandan cooking and hospitality, contact us today to organise your visit to Rwanda: We organise tailored tours including mountain gorilla trekking, Akagera Park safaris, kayaking, hiking and biking in any part of the country.
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