Considered one of the least developed countries in the world, Rwanda is an unusual destination for high school groups, but it had been a focus of study and service for the three Upper Valley students who traveled there in December.
Kigali, Rwanda -- After months of planning and fund raising, followed by 36 hours of travel across seven time zones via five cities and three continents, there's a problem: the soccer balls.
We stopped our car along the main road that snakes from Kigali, Rwanda's capital, to the country's western region. We were heading to the volcanoes that soar along the northwest border for a story about mountain gorillas and what has happened to their habitat. But the light was good now, streaking through the rainy season's ever-present clouds, and the cameraman I was traveling with wanted to shoot.
(09-10) 04:00 PDT Ruhengeri, Rwanda -- The mud, at first, is brutal. It splashes your pants and sloshes down your socks and seems to fling itself at you from the thick bamboo forest. It suctions your boots as you strain up what shouldn't really be called a path, and mocks you for moving so slowly, especially compared to the Rwandan guides who seem to glide through the forest.
On the steep, misty slopes of the Sabinyo volcano, far above the green rectangles of sorghum fields that press against the Parc National des Volcans, a family of mountain gorillas is frolicking.
As the huge silverback yawns, a small group of camera-toting tourists - each of whom has paid Rwanda's park system $375 to see this scene - click away. "It's amazing!" one woman exclaims.
In 1995, a Rwandan named Gad Tegeri cut down a tree in the Gishwati Forest Reserve, 30 square miles of soaring hardwoods in the hills east of Rwanda's largest lake.
He and his family, returning to Rwanda from exile in Congo, needed land to grow food. The Gishwati forest seemed more fertile ground for restarting life than United Nations refugee camps outside the city of Gisenyi