By Tatenda Bwawa, 2nd year MDP student
A Humbling Welcome
North Rupunini District Development Board (NRDDB) is a community based nongovernmental and non-profit organization that oversees 16 communities in the North Rupunini, Guyana. The aim of the NRDDB is to create economic and environment development in the Rupunini region through collaboration and consultation. In most of the Rupunini communities, tourism is at the center of their lives, which they see as conservation mechanisms for future generations. In the savannah villages, eco-tourism is a means to foster development for the communities. As part of the welcome from the host organization (NRDDB), a radio interview was scheduled. Radio Paiwomak 97.1 FM is the only radio station in the North Rupunini area and based at Bina Hill Institute. It is the first Indigenous radio station to operate in Guyana. The sole purpose of the interview was to introduce ourselves, share personal life stories, and the purpose of being in North Rupunini. We will also be giving a bi-weekly updated on the radio in regards to the projects we are working on. We had the warmest welcome by the Makushi people!
Virgin Harding, Radio Paiwomak 97.1 FM broadaster (L) and Tatenda Bwawa (R)
A true eco-lodge experience
Surama Lodge is located in the North Rupunini. The most intriguing thing about Surama lodge is community based eco-tourism right in the middle of the savannah. The rooms are typical Amerindian huts that are self-contained and build western style. The most intriguing and inspirational thing about this lodge is the community coming together and producing an experience like this. The real highlight of the experience was the boat ride, fishing, touring the forests, and genuine hospitality. An experience like this proves that tourism is a necessity in the development and management of the local community. Most importantly, the benefits remain in the community.
Tatenda & tour guide Milner in the boat along the Burro Burro River
|One of the guest rooms at Surama|
Everyone deserves a second chance
Since arriving in North Rupunini every day has been a learning experience. Bina Hill Youth Learning Centre is a two year institution with students from the Rupunini District. The majority of the students never had the opportunity to attend secondary school in their respective communities. Some of them previously dropped out of secondary school and Bina Hill is providing them with a second chance. The mission of the learning centre is to build capacity for the North Rupunini region and Guyana as a whole. Currently, Bina Hill Youth Learning Centre has 27 students (11 First years and 16 Second years). The institute provides leadership skills, to cultivate the love for indigenous culture, and management of the environment. The youth learn by doing field visits and working on several practical projects in tourism, agriculture and natural resource management. It has truly been a privilege meeting these young people and working with them. Our objective has been to do a “visioning” exercise with them. Every day is learning experience with these young people.
|Tatenda with the Bina Hill Institute 1st Year Class|