Lake Bunyonyi is about a 3 hours drive from Kigali, a few kilometers west of Kabale town. It is said to be the second deepest lake in Africa and it was to be the location of Impact Hub Kigali’s 1st team retreat. We checked into Byoona Amagara, a backpacker’s hostel on one of the islands on the lake. Only one of us in the team had been to the island and the rest of us were very eager to experience it for ourselves. Byoona Amagara is an eco resort built mostly using locally available materials. On top of that, everything runs on solar power and all the toilets are composting! The next two days were filled with discovery, adventure and music.
The mornings were freezing cold and the outdoor showers definitely didn’t make things any easier. We spent the first day reflecting on how our first four months as a Hub had been; the Good the Bad and the Ugly we called it. Just so you know, there was plenty Good to outweigh the Bad and Ugly combined! Before we knew it, it was lunch time and we headed off to the restaurant for some Byoona Amagara food. Did I mention how big the helpings were? Well, they were, and so delicious at that.
We decided to take a canoe out into the lake after lunch, turned out not to be such a good idea. We all like stability in our lives, knowing that we are on steady ground. When things become a bit wobbly, we panic. Nobody fell into the lake, but it turned out to be a great team building exercise on trust and teamwork. Two knew how to row a boat, one better than the other, the third (me) had never rowed one. We had some episodes of the boat going round in circles and some “row right!” “No! Row left!” “Stop Rowing!” At that moment, I wished that I had internet connection to Google ‘how to row a boat on L.Bunyonyi’. But at the same time I knew that if we put our heads together, figure out our goal (getting back to shore without overturning the canoe), and work together, we would make it! We did just that and got back to Byoona Amagara, alive and dry.
The evenings were the most memorable. We had our own corner in the restaurant where we would sit by lantern light and sing along to Jon’s ukulele as the night closed in. Dinner time presented an opportunity for funny stories and laughter, as well as some freestyle rap to the beat of the ukulele. We were lucky to be there for a full-moon and see the beauty of its reflection on the lake.
The second day was about plunging into the deep of strategic planning for the Hub. Taking into stock the boat ride from the day before, we set down our commitments to each other as a team, and to our members (passengers on the Impact Hub Kigali canoe). We also went ahead to ask ourselves important questions around what our member’s needs are, what opportunities are there for us to meet their needs and how to avoid the foreseeable potholes ahead of us. For lunch, we all decided that ebinyebwa sauce (peanut sauce) was the best accompaniment for every meal at the restaurant. We began our afternoon session with meditation looking over the beautiful lake. This was very refreshing and enabled us to continue into the final part of our planning.
The next day, we finalized on our planning and spent the rest of the morning swimming and hiking around the island before we had to head back to Kigali. As the boat pulled away from the island, I couldn’t help but think of how 2016 was going to be a great year for Impact Hub Kigali; lots of new challenges but growing all the same.
You need to watch this space.