Thank you for being a part of a Team Trip with Africa New Life Ministries. We hope that this Trip Guide serves you well as you prepare for a journey to Rwanda!
Trips to Rwanda with Africa New Life allow friends and partners to actively participate in the vision and life of community transformation.
This is accomplished by:
- Introducing teams to the ministry in Rwanda
- Giving teams the opportunity to serve with two hands: Sharing the Gospel and Acts of Compassion
- Coming alongside our Rwandan team in their community ministry
- Allowing team members to see the needs and the hope of Rwanda’s people
- Providing a platform for God to work in people’s lives
What a particular trip will look like depends on the team composition as well as collaboration between the team leader and Africa New Life Ministries staff in the U.S. and Rwanda. Below are some of the activities that most teams will participate in:
- Attend church in an Africa New Life community
- Visit a Genocide Memorial, commonly, the Nyamata Memorial or the Kigali Genocide Memorial
- Work with the children at the Dream Tutoring Program
- Visit the Women’s Vocational Training Center
- Participate in Home Visits – this is an opportunity for sponsors to meet their sponsored student
- Visit communities where Africa New Life works
- Interact with a ministry or community specific to the sending church
Each team traveling to Rwanda typically visits many of our communities while on the ground. Teams wishing to focus on a particular community are able to do so through strategic planning with our Rwandan staff.
All teams will participate in an orientation meeting when they arrive in Rwanda. A Rwandan Africa New Life staff member will introduce the ministry, review cultural expectations, cultural sensitivity, policies on sponsorship and other pertinent details. This orientation is intended as a complement to this Guide and your preparatory team meetings.
We encourage teams to participate in daily team devotions. This may include reading Scripture, prayer, praise and worship, etc. Devotions are an important part of your trip and a critical part of your day. We want to make sure every team to seek the Lord at every step of this trip.
To support your personal growth, most teams are sent an individual journal prior to departure, which was developed by Africa New Life staff specifically for team trips.
Visiting My Sponsored Student
While in Rwanda, you will have the chance to visit your sponsored student, barring extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances are very rare, but may include a boarding school that prohibits visitation, or the student is out of the country. Home Visits are commonly the highlight of a team member’s trip. We encourage you to learn more about what you can expect for this home visit.
If you write your sponsored student before travel to Rwanda, do not mention your upcoming trip. The Rwandan team will notify the student of your visit in time to make arrangements. We ask for your restraint in order to avoid the student’s disappointment in case your trip is cannot take place.
When visiting a sponsored student, it is culturally appropriate to bring a gift to their home. A Gift of Food will be lined up by Africa New Life and is included in your trip cost. We are not able to hold gifts made through our online store for personal delivery.
Any gift will be cherished by the student, and it is your presence that means the most! But remember, you are not just bringing a gift or greetings – you are in ministry – you are there to proclaim the Gospel! 1 Timothy 1:12 says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.”
A Gift of Food:
A $50 gift of food and hygiene supplies. This gift will be purchased by Rwandan colleagues before your team arrives. The $50 typically buys rice, corn-flour, sugar, cooking oil, and soap for the sponsored student’s family. The supplies are purchased in the local market, and quantity can vary based on prices. This gift blesses the whole family, not just your sponsored student. Depending on the size of the family, provisions can last many weeks.
One Gift of Food is included in standard trip estimates. Additional Gifts of Food will be added for multiple sponsorships at $50 each. If you do not sponsor, these funds will be redirected towards your team’s in-country goals.
Gift From Home:
A sponsor may bring items from the U.S. that are age and gender appropriate for their sponsored student.
- We ask that these items fit in small bag or backpack – please no duffel bags for just one student!
- Appropriate items include: Sports equipment, solar lamps, rain boots or sturdy flip flops, clothes (please remember Rwanda is a conservative culture), school supplies (pens, calculator, composition notebook, pencil pouch), flashcards, card games, jump ropes, tennis balls, Hot Wheels, Yoyos, dolls, sunglasses, umbrellas.
- Highly recommended: pictures of your family, friends, and hobbies to share about your life (no pets please), and a map showing the geography between your home & Rwanda.
- U.S. or Rwandan colleagues are not able to find out the clothing or shoe size for your child. You may write a letter to ask, or do a best guess based on age and pictures.
- Older students may enjoy a book to help with English acquisition, a dictionary or thesaurus, a study bible, devotional, or college/business preparation materials
- Inappropriate items include: shampoo, cosmetics such as nail polish or perfume, medicine, vitamins, electronics, candy, toys that need batteries, or money.
- It is not an expectation to bring a gift for every family member. If you chose to bring something for the family, fabric from the local market or a scarf for the mother figure and a button up shirt or gloves for the father figure are culturally appropriate gifts.
- U.S. or Rwandan colleagues are not able to provide information on all individuals that life in the home. You may write a letter and ask who lives in the home with your sponsored student.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
While serving with Africa New Life Ministries, most teams will be staying at the Africa New Life Guest House in the capital city of Kigali. You will be very comfortable with your accommodation. The Guest House staff’s mission is to make you feel safe and content so you can focus on the work you are in Rwanda to do. While at the Guest House, please conserve electricity and water whenever possible. Keep your spaces tidy out of respect for other visitors. Here is what you can expect at the Guest House:
- 18 modest, but comfortable bedrooms
- Most travelers share a room with someone from their team. We do our absolute best to get couples their own room and keep families together. If your team is traveling in a high capacity time, then we cannot guarantee couples will be given their own room. Rooms may need to be divided into men’s and women’s quarters.
- Beds with full linens
- Mosquito nets above every bed
- A fan in each room
- 16 bathrooms with running water, flushing toilets, shower, hand soap, and toilet paper
- Most bedrooms have a bathroom inside. If not inside, the bathroom will be just around the corner
- Bath towels
- Hot water (not unlimited) for bathing
- Laundry soap and washtub in each bathroom for laundering clothes
- On site laundry done for you at a small fee per item (please plan to wash your own underclothes)
- Electricity – 220 voltage outlets
- Adapter strips in each bedroom for plug to plug changes (not a power converter)
- Access to common space refrigerator for medication
- Common space refrigerator with bottled water safe for drinking and brushing teeth
- Internet with limited bandwidth and range
- Communal resting and dining spaces
- Full time on-site hospitality staff
- Night guardsman & walled property
Most teams eat their meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) at our Guest House. We employ trained cooks who are able to safely prepare food for the Western stomach. Many dinners involve traditional African preparations of rice, beans, a meat dish, and potatoes served with fresh fruit and veggies. Hot lunches tend to be more diverse including Mexican or Italian food. Depending on the day’s itinerary, teams may pack sack lunches to take with them.
Your trip application allows you to indicate allergies and dietary restrictions. Gluten free alternatives are sent from the United States to Rwanda regularly. Upon arrival in Rwanda, please identify yourself to the Guest House Manager. They will be able to accommodate your needs. Please call the U.S. office with further concerns.
Each morning the Guest House will have coffee and hot water available for you before breakfast is prepared. If you are an early riser then you may want to bring along some instant coffee or tea in case the coffee is not yet brewed.
Additionally, many teams will dine out at local restaurants for a couple meals. There is a wide variety of restaurants found in Kigali: Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, and of course many local flavors abound! Eating out is a great way to learn more about the evolving city culture in Kigali. You will eat out with Africa New Life at establishments we frequent and trust.
Here are a few guidelines to help you stay safe and healthy throughout your trip.
- Only bottled or filtered water is considered safe for drinking. Please ask your team leader if you have any questions about drinking water. Other safe alternatives include soda or drinks made with boiled water such as coffee or tea. Drink bottled sodas through a straw.
- Elements like elevation, temperature, and activity level require you to drink a full 64 ounces of water each day.
- Staying hydrated in Rwanda in critical. In every community, you will have access to bathroom facilities. In rural communities, bathroom facilities will be rustic.
- Do not use tap water for brushing your teeth. Use filtered or bottled water.
- If your stomach starts to feel upset by the food, consider a tummy soother (like probiotics, Pepto-Bismol), which will provide relief and help your body process new foods. However, plan to travel with an antibiotic for more severe symptoms.
While traveling you are always exposing your body to new foods and thus new bacteria may upset your system. Depending on your gut health, you may be more sensitive to new foods. This is why we recommend that you bring medication, just in case. See what medication we recommend you pack. And remember, trust your gut to protect your gut! If you are unsure about a food that you have been offered, you are better off politely declining. You may graciously explain your sensitive stomach cannot handle new foods.
We have put together an extensive Packing List to help you prepare. The days are warm in Rwanda and the evenings cool down. Layers and breathable fabrics are great choices!
One way we can demonstrate cultural sensitivity is by dressing respectfully. In Rwanda, Western style leaning conservative is common, especially in Kigali. It is unlikely that you need to buy a new wardrobe – think through what you already own and enjoy wearing first!
On the plane, you will need access to your passport and our Emergency Contact Sheet. Check your airline ticket for your baggage allowance to know how many checked bags are included. Pack a carry on with two days worth of clothes & toiletries in case your checked bags are delayed.
Rwandan men dress conservatively and slightly formal compared to daily Western culture. Men will need to wear pants each day. Adult men do not wear shorts in Rwanda, although it is okay for male visitors below high-school age to wear them. Jeans are fine culturally, they just might be a little warm. Adult men may wear shorts at the Guest House. Casual cotton t-shirts are ok to wear. Tops that are breathable are best. Bring comfortable tennis shoes or sandals to wear each day. Hats are OK. Flip flops are great for at the Guest House.
During your Home Visit, the sponsored student’s family typically wears their Sunday best. Dressing nicer on this day is expected.
If you choose to work out or go for a run in the neighborhood near the Guest House, you are welcome to wear shorts.
Church is a formal occasion, so men should wear slacks and a button-down shirt, but a tie or suit is not necessary. Please make sure your sleepwear is appropriate for mixed company.
Women in Rwanda dress conservatively but modern. Skirts or dresses that hit the knee are great. Jeans are fine culturally, they just might be a little warm. Yoga pants are not advised, particularly outside the Guest House. Skirts that hit the knee, pants, or capris are the best choice for day to day wear. Casual cotton t-shirts are ok to wear. Tops that are breathable are best. Please no halter tops, off-the shoulder tops, tube tops, or low-cut blouses. Bring comfortable tennis shoes or sandals to wear each day. Hats are OK. Flip flops are great for at the Guest House.
If you choose to work out or go for a run in the neighborhood near the Guest House, please wear running capris or pants instead of shorts.
Church is a formal occasion, so a dress/skirt or a slacks/blouse attire is best. Please make sure that your sleepwear is appropriate for mixed company.
On days where your team is in a rural community, such as Kageyo or Bugesera, wearing a skirt or a dress will help you fit in to local expectations. Additionally, during your Home Visit the sponsored student’s family typically wears their Sunday best. Dressing nicer on this day is expected.