Azizi Life Experiences is a social enterprise offering Rwanda’s guests a unique opportunity to really connect and gain insight into the life of rural Rwandans and their families. Through a range of various cultural Experience Days, you get to not only see something of the beauty and rigor of daily life, but also experience it. It’s a truly interactive way to learn about Rwandan culture!
The following are some of the Azizi life experiences:
Traditional Coffee Experience
Take a step back in time to learn and taste coffee picked, washed, roasted and ground by hand. The Azizi Life Experience morning begins with a drive to a nearby village where you and your Azizi Life facilitator will be welcomed by the ladies of the cooperative.
After introductions from your hostess, you help out in the kitchen to get lunch underway. Then it is off to the field to check on the coffee plants and harvest some of the cherries. Once collected, the cherries will need to be washed before removing the pulp, so it’s off down into the valley to collect the water.
During noontime, you’ll share a simple local meal with your host family with plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives. After lunch, it’s time to roast, grind and sieve the beans before they can be turned into the perfect cup of traditional Rwandan coffee. You will love working with the ladies as you work and absolutely you will also be laughing together.
The day finishes back at the Azizi Life office with a cold Fanta and a chance to think back over the highlights of the day. There you can browse through some of the beautiful crafts made by the Azizi Life artisans and do a little fair trade shopping.
You may have seen the high rise buildings in Kigali but this Azizi Life Experience is your chance to learn something about the traditional building techniques whereby some of them used since the times of the King.
In the morning you will collect water and soil that you will then be taught how to make into mud bricks. After making your own bricks, you will then dig the foundations and learn how to lay the bricks in a way to ensure the building will be strong. By this point, you will have built up a bit of an appetite and so everyone will stop working and share a simple home-cooked lunch with your host family.
In the afternoon, you go and collect banana leaves which you will be taught how to make into a strong rope that can then be used to lash wood together to make a roof. You finish the day back at the Azizi Life office with a cold Fanta and all the knowledge you need to build your very own mud brick house. Plus you can do some fair trade shopping for products made in the community that you visited.
Banana Juice Making
Traditionally shared during weddings and other celebrations, banana juice has long been a central part of Rwandan parties. Although nowadays banana juice can be easily purchased from the local store, the traditional technique for making your own brew is a much greater labor of love.
In the morning of your Azizi Life Experience, you will work with your rural host to collect the green bananas and the leaves required to start up the process. You will then dig a hole and bury the bananas to ripen over time. After enjoying a simple meal with your host family, you will head into the valley to collect water. The ripening process takes four days but don’t worry, you won’t need to wait. Your hosts will have some already-buried bananas for you to dig up. You will then peel, mash and strain the bananas using traditional techniques and voila- you have made authentic banana juice.
The day finalizes back at the Azizi Life office where the juice is boiled from, so it is ready for you to taste and take away.
Traditional Cooking Day
Select from a simple variety of seasonal dishes for your custom traditional cooking Experience with a rural mama! Your day begins not in the kitchen but in the fields as you learn seasonal planting or harvesting of fresh ingredients for your meal.
Once the ingredients and water have been collected, food preparation starts with washing, peeling, pounding and grinding the ingredients using traditional methods and tools. Throughout the process, your hostess and the ladies of the local cooperative will teach and guide you always allowing you to experience the day at your own pace.
Once your meal has completed cooking in the outdoor kitchen, it will be time to enjoy! Choose to eat with a fork or with your fingers as you taste the fruits of your labors.
Sitting in the home of host family, there will be plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives. Then finally the day will finish back at the Azizi Life office with a cold Fanta and a chance to think back over the highlights of the day.
There you can also browse through some of the beautiful crafts made by your hostess and other Azizi Life artisans and do a little fair trade shopping.
Traditional Drumming & Dancing
Your Azizi Life Musical Experience starts with a mini-performance from a small troupe of traditional performers.
Then it’s your turn to put on a traditional costume and give it a try. You will have fun as the dancers teach you some basic dance steps and share a bit of the history of Rwandan dance. After some practice time, the expert dance instructors help you put everything together in a performance of your very own. Don’t worry- an Azizi Life team member will be on hand to catch the whole thing on film!
After a break to catch your breath, the drummers will teach you some traditional beats or you can even do a bit of free styling of your own on the traditional drums. No experience or expertise is necessary instead it is simply fun for anyone brave enough to give it a go.
Home Stay Experience
An overnight Experience is a unique opportunity to participate in the life of a rural artisan and her family. Home Stay hostesses live in homes made of mud brick which usually have one larger front room for receiving visitors and a few smaller bedrooms for the family. In the enclosed area behind the house, there is an outdoor kitchen, enclosed pit latrine and bathing outhouse, animal stalls and family workspace. Most host families have about four children at home. In Rwandan culture, guests are considered as a blessing!
Your Home Stay Experience starts with a drive to a nearby village where you and your Azizi Life interpreter will be welcomed by your rural community hosts.
You will meet your host family and see your room and then it’s off to help with preparations for the evening. You might help out in the kitchen or collect wood for the bonfire.
After a bit of explore around the village, its back home to light the fire and hear some traditional tales. Then you will share a simple local meal with your host family with plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives. After this and the embers of the fire die away, then it’s time to start preparing for bed.
As the new day dawns, you will rise and shine and get ready for the day and then you will share a simple breakfast with your hosts before heading back to the Azizi Life office boutique. Here you will have the chance to think back over the highlights of your night away. You can also browse through some of the beautiful crafts made by the Azizi Life artisans (including your hosts) and do a little fair trade shopping.
Candle Dipping and Hive Making
Become part of a beekeeping cooperative for the day. The Azizi Life Experience morning resumes with a drive to a nearby village where you and your Azizi Life interpreter will be welcomed by the men and ladies of the cooperative.
After introductions from your hostess, a morning of family chores begins. You collect water from the valley spring, prepare the fire for candle dipping and gather the materials and learn how to make your own traditional beehive.
By noontime, you will share a simple local meal with your host family with plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives. After lunch, you will join with the artisan cooperative for an afternoon of candle making. You will learn how to prepare the wax, and then the artisans will teach you how to dip your own pair of bee wax candles that you get to take home with you. You will love working with the artisans as you dip and laugh together.
The day then finishes back at the Azizi Life office with a cold Fanta and a chance to think back over the highlights of the day. There you can browse through some of the beautiful crafts made by the Azizi Life artisans and do a little fair trade shopping.
Azizi Life Pathways
Special appreciation to Rwanda’s lush green hills, beautiful valleys and welcoming people, it may be one of the easiest and most exciting places in East Africa to explore by foot. All around the rural communities, there is already a vast network of paths ready and waiting for you to explore.
Enjoy local knowledge and good company as you explore with one of the best local guides! The guides who speak English or French will enrich your walk with information on the communities you pass and points of interest. Enjoy a scenic rural excursion or choose an in-town exploration, visiting the local markets and experiencing other aspects of urban life.
All the walks are designed to be flexible and so you are able to start and finish at the time of your choice and choose a distance and pace which is ideal for you. Once you have booked, you will be contacted to find out all of your preferences. Whether you choose the mapped routes or create your own adventure, Azizi Life Pathways is a wonderful way to get out and enjoy Rwanda!