21 June 2008 saw the opening of Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Rwanda. So much has happened not only for Sabyinyo but also for Rwanda, the SACOLA community and Rwanda's tourism
The 10-year birthday bash celebration at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Rwanda saw the hanging of the original banner to welcome the guests, just as it did 10 years ago.
Happy cheers and bubbly was shared at the decade celebration between faces old and new who have played a role in the creation, the dream and also the growth of the lodge. It was also a celebration of the greatly successful partnership between the SACOLA community and Governors' Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.
The original vision for Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda
2006 Realised the vision of a lodge in Volcanoes National Park which turned into reality when an agreement was signed between Governors’ Camp and leaders of the SACOLA community to build and manage Rwanda’s first community-owned high-end lodge.
His Excellency Paul Kagame officially opened the lodge in 2008. The vision had been to create a lodge owned by SACOLA to hold a high-end tourism property in trust for the local community. A proportion of the revenues from it go toward the community and it acts in the best interests of the local community, promoting the interests of the community and most importantly focuses on the conservation of the Volcanoes National Park.
True partnerships to realise the vision of Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
The partnering between SACOLA and Governors Camp Rwanda Ltd, who would operate the lodge as a professional tourism company managing the highest levels of service for a lodge and focusing strongly on promoting community development and conservation of Volcanoes Park and its wildlife.
The concept was strongly supported by the Rwanda Development Board right from the start. They could see the benefit of this structure which would help support government objectives of economic development within the local community while promoting conservation of the National Park and developing a strong commercial business in the area. USAID and by African Wildlife Foundation supported this project for the same reasons.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge created a blueprint of best practice that has been copied many times elsewhere and also set a new benchmark in the field of community/conservation-based tourism.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has changed countless lives
A total of more than $3 Million in revenue generated by Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has been used by the SACOLA community to uplift and improve the quality of life of the people around. The funds have been used to:
- Build classrooms
- Pay for school fees
- Buy 62 computers for a computer lab
- Construct of a health care centre
- Pay for health insurance
- Construct roads
- Electrify thousands of households
It also aided in the following:
- The building of houses for the impoverished
- Rehabilitation of nature and community walks
- Installation of water systems in the area
- Donation of cattle
- Set up of kitchen gardens and donation of iron sheets
Most importantly it helped with the construction of the buffalo wall and assisted in the establishment of micro-enterprises for many families.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a beacon of light to this community and for Rwanda in general and now serves as a benchmark in how community and conservation can work together to not only further the upliftment of tourism but use this to help a community. This blueprint of best practice has been implemented in other parts of Rwanda and has also shown significant contributions to the development of Rwanda and it's tourism.
Celebrating this momentous occasion was a proud moment for all stakeholders involved. Here's to the next 10 years and beyond.