Volunteer FAQ

What sort of vaccinations do I need before I go to Rwanda?

The best advice is to visit a travel doctor who can review your current vaccination history with you, and guide you on what other vaccinations you will need before going to Rwanda.

Do I need to bring any medication?

Again, your travel doctor will review your current medications as well as other you may need. You may decide to take medication for malaria prevention or need other personal prescriptions while you are in Rwanda. We suggest bringing bug spray with strong deet, Imodium A-D, and Tylenol or Advil. You will also want to consider talking to your doctor about taking Ciproflaxin and a Z-Pack with you in case you need an antibiotic while you are away. You may never need any of these medications, but it is a good idea to have them just in case.

How safe is Rwanda?

Rated one of the safest countries in Africa, there is relatively low crime rate. However, we advise you to travel with caution whenever you go overseas. You may register with Smart Traveler, Enrollment Program (STEP) which will enroll your travel dates with the nearest embassy. When in Rwanda always let someone know where you will be at all times and notify anyone if your plan changes (such as adding or canceling a travel destination like gorilla trekking).

What kind of clothes should I pack?

Cotton fabrics are best for the hot and humid weather, you should also bring a sweater, wrap, long-sleeved shirts, or light jacket for the evenings. For ladies, skirts (to the knee) are a great option for the culture and the climate. Men in Rwanda do not typically wear shorts, although you will see tourists wearing them. Men wear long pants, khaki pants are great to be comfortable and casual. Comfortable shoes are ideal for walking and closed-toed shoes are a good idea when out in more rural areas or settings. Rwandans are somewhat conservative in attire, but you don’t have to worry about that too much. Just dress comfortably and bring a couple of nicer outfits for a meeting or dinners.

If you plan on going gorilla trekking while in Rwanda, bring a fleece, long sleeved shirts, khaki/hiking pants, hiking shoes and/or tennis shoe as you will be climbing and walking through more wooded areas. Many people also like to bring gardening gloves or some sort of gloves to protect their hands when going through the forestry.

Can I use my electronic devices in Rwanda?

You will need to bring adapters for any electrical items you bring (ipods, camera charger, computers, etc). The voltage in Rwanda is 220, the same outlets used in France, for example; they are round two prong outlets. It is easy to purchase universal adapters on amazon.com and they cost about $7 each.

Can I use my phone in Rwanda?

Many phones are now “unlocked,” meaning once you enter Rwanda, you can purchase a Rwandan SIM card and replace it with your current SIM card in your phone allowing you to use your phone in Rwanda. If you have WI-FI available you do not need to change your SIM card, however for longer visits, it is recommended to replace your SIM card. There are also free app,s like WhatsApp, that allow you to text or call internationally for free when connected to WI-FI. If you are a long-term volunteer, it is recommended to purchase a local phone and number.

What else I should pack for Rwanda?

If at all possible, bring a second suitcase or fit a smaller suitcase or duffel bag inside of a bigger suitcase when traveling. You will inevitably be purchasing items that will be hard to carry-on such as baskets or fabric. If you have a second bag, it will help with your travel home. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring snacks like protein bars and nuts.

How else can I prepare for my trip to Rwanda?

Books

Below is a list of a few wonderful books you can read before you arrive in Rwanda.

Rwanda Inc. (About Rwandan Economy)

A Thousand Hills (About President Paul Kagame)

A Thousand Hills to Heaven (About a couple who moves to Rwanda and opens a restaurant called Heaven)

Left To Tell (An incredible true story by Immaculee Ilibagiza and her genocide experience.)

Running the Rift (A story about Jean Patrick Nkuba and his journey of wanting to be an Olympic track runner to running away from the atrocities of the genocide.)

We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families (The story of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide)

Baking Cakes in Kigali (A fictional story about family, unfolding connections, and hope.)

Films

Frontline Rwanda Special- Ghosts of Rwanda. You can watch segments at the link. You can also find it on Youtube. This is a much more accurate, interesting picture than the Hotel Rwanda film many are familiar with. Some of it is very difficult to watch (not for younger kids), but really important for context.

Kinyarwanda- Very interesting Rwandan film about the genocide that won several awards at various film festivals.

Rising from Ashes- Interesting movie about the Rwandan Cycling team that started post genocide.