In early June, Send a Cow’s CEO Paul Stuart and Trustee Fiona Crisp took on the epic challenge of cycling from Kigali to Lake Kivu which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. Joined by other charity supporters they pedalled across 250km in support of Send a Cow, meeting communities who work with us along the way. Here, Paul shares some highlights from the trip. 

Day oneJyambere

Before embarking on our cycling challenge, we spent the first day visiting some of the communities Send a Cow has worked with including members of a cooperative in Jyambere. The cooperative started working with us 10 years ago. They came together to sell milk produced from the cows they received from Send a Cow and they've grown rapidly ever since. 

They now have 258 members, collect 1,600 litres per day and employ 55 staff! Many of the staff collect milk from neighbouring households for onward sale to the Nyanza milk industry. A brilliant display of sustainable impact.

Day two

What a wonderful and tiring first day cycling up and down the hills of Northern Rwanda before arriving at a tea plantation. We were well supported by members of Team Rwanda who carried lots of water and mended our bikes.

We were constantly being greeted by children who ran alongside us. They loved to practice their English ‘Good Morning’ while we practiced our Kinyarwandan ‘Muraho (‘hello’ – literally translated as ‘are you still alive?’)

Day three

Following a tour of the tea factory we headed downhill to a local town, passing many women working hard in the tea plantation.

In the afternoon we cycled around Lake Burera before arriving at Lake Ruhondo. Here, I got my first puncture of the trip! But it was quickly fixed by our guides Marcel and Obed.

We then took a short boat trip to the lodge – 120 km done, 130km to go!

The dirt tracks we were cycling along were incredibly dusty. If large lorries hurtled past then it could be 30 seconds before we saw our path again. It didn't take long for our charity jerseys to turn from white to terracota!

Day four

We began the morning with a leisurely boat trip back across the lake where we watched egrets and local fisherman laying their nets. It was a lovely start to the day followed by a very steep and technical climb.

We then visited a nursery where we were welcomed in song by the children. They showed us around their library and told us of their plans to get internet access and a compost toilet soon.

In the afternoon we played football with the library team – losing 2-1 in a very tight game! The day ended with tea and cakes at the Team Rwanda base.

Day five

Today we met Adrien Niynshuti – a cycling celebrity who represented Rwanda in the last two Olympics. He inspired us to keep going on our final day of cycling!

30km before the finish, we visited the home of the inspirational American, Rosamond Carr. She set up an orphanage for 120 children after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Tired but very happy we reached Giseni on the edge of Lake Kivu. Overall we cycled a challenging 250km, full of fantastic views and memories.

Day sixJean and Euginie

On our final day in Rwanda we met Jean and Euginie, farmers working with Send a Cow. They walked us around their farm, showing us the range of nutritious fruit and vegetables they are growing. Jean is a peer farmer and has passed on his knowledge to 13 of his neighbours.

It was great to see the impact of Send a Cow's work firsthand and to speak to farmers who have effectively worked their way out of poverty.