The past four weeks have been quite eventful in the life of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture. During the first week of March, RICA was preparing for the first visit of our founder, Howard Buffett, to the campus since construction began. Less than a week later, RICA students were sent home on Monday, March 16 as RICA and other educational institutions were closed due to COVID-19. Rwanda imposed a quarantine and travel ban on March 21, 2020, with staff remaining on campus quarantined for at least two weeks. Teresa and I decided it was best to return to Nebraska for a time, leaving Rwanda on March 19, the day before the Kigali airport closed. Student education continues for now via remote learning to finish Term 2, and I remain engaged in directing the Institute from a distance, anticipating the time when we can return to RICA physically.
Teresa and I moved onto the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) on Sunday, September 29, 2019. Our home is in Burera House, named after a lake in northern Rwanda, east of Musanze. The current plan is for students and all instruction activities to move to the RICA campus the first of November.
These ten photographs document life on campus in the two weeks we’ve lived here.
It has been several weeks since my last post – a packed, eventful period with many ‘firsts’ in the life of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). In mid-August, we realized there was a decent chance that not all facilities needed for instruction during Term 1 of the first year would be ready in time to begin classes in September. This readiness included assessment for accreditation by the Higher Education Council (HEC) of the Ministry of Education of Rwanda. Consequently, RICA explored options for a temporary facility to house and instruct the first cohort of students. The Higher Education Council visited our proposed site, the La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata (between Kigali and the RICA campus) on Sept. 3, 2019. On Sept. 4, 2019, the Ministry of Education granted RICA permission to begin operations, and submitted the proposal for accreditation to the Cabinet.
Friday, September 13, was the first All-Hands Meeting for RICA faculty and staff – a review of RICA’s progress the past few months, a look forward to the first term, and in-service training sessions to familiarize staff on various software platforms and other resources RICA will use to run the Institute.
Saturday, September 14, was the first Matriculation Ceremony for RICA. Students and their families were transported to the La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata from bus stations in Kigali. The Matriculation Ceremony was a formal induction of the first cohort of RICA students. Students families were bused back to Kigali that evening, and students spent their first night on campus.
Monday, September 16 began the first week of classes for RICA. The first class was ‘Practical Mathematics for Agriculture’. The week included three days in which students were bused to the RICA campus for their Practical Farming class field work, spending three hours each day in the field. The proximity of Nyamata to the RICA campus makes this practical, and this will be the weekly pattern until students move onto campus later this year. The week ended with a visit by the Minister of Agriculture to the RICA campus on Friday, September 20, to observe students working in the field, and speaking to a convocation of the students and staff that afternoon in Nyamata.
These fourteen photographs come from three areas of Rwanda, including our first visit to the west, Lake Kivu. The RICA campus is south of Kigali, though in the Eastern Province, as is Akagera National Park. Lake Kivu is in the Western Province. These photographs date from June through August, 2019.
The first photograph is again of Lake Kilimbi, where the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) is located.