24 November 2021In an unprecedented Rwandan first, Wilderness Safaris Magashi Junior Guides Alphonse Ntabana and Innocent Tuyisenge both recently passed their Field Guides’ Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) Apprentice Field Guide qualifications, the first citizens to do so. Alphonse and Innocent actually started working at Magashi before the camp opened to guests in May 2019, appreciating the opportunity to train in the beautiful and abundant Akagera National Park.They registered for the FGASA course to study while working, taking advantage of the chance to learn from some of the best in the business, combining knowledge from Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and, of course, the experienced senior guides at Magashi. Both guides duly completed all the required work modules and theory assessments, under the mentorship of Magashi’s Guide Trainer and Senior Guide Luke Abbot, with the support of Camp Manager and Senior Guide Jaco Venter..At the beginning of November, Guide Trainer and FGASA assessor Henry Parsons visited Magashi to complete the guides’ practical assessments. Henry was impressed with their knowledge, and delighted to be at Magashi, noting: “It is an honour and privilege to play my part in developing the Rwandan safari industry, none of which would be possible without the hard work of Alphonse and Innocent”.“We are very proud of their achievements. With good teamwork and input from many different guides they have had the support needed, but in the end it is their own commitment that has brought them this far. It is a milestone for them personally, for Wilderness Safaris, and especially for Rwanda”, added a proud Rob Baas, Wilderness Safaris Rwanda MD..Innocent Tuyisenge started out with Wilderness Safaris as a waiter at Bisate in 2017 before moving to Magashi in 2019. His love for all things in nature, and a dream to become a guide, saw him expand his vocation to include the great outdoors. Furthermore, not only is Innocent passionate about conservation, but he cares deeply for the welfare of his community, as expressed through his previous work with Fair Children Youth Foundation and Chance for Childhood. “I love working for Wilderness because it’s a passion of mine to make people feel special. Also being an ambassador for conservation is very important to me. ‘Our journeys change lives’ is more than just a saying – through all the training and support, Wilderness has changed my life”.Previously a freelance community guide for African Parks, Alphonse Ntabana started working at Magashi in March 2019. Like Innocent, he is a Rwandan citizen born in Uganda. As a revered profession, becoming a doctor was top of mind for Alphonse. However after he completed his Bachelor’s degree at Kabale University, he came home and worked in another valuable field – conservation – in Akagera National Park, from where he moved on to Magashi as a Junior Guide. “Our senior guides display passion and a willingness to share their knowledge, and have really helped us understand each aspect of the FGASA manuals. I am very proud to have graduated now, and want to continue to study and grow. I am thankful to Wilderness as ‘Our journeys change lives’ also rings true for me. By working for Wilderness as one big family, I see my future as a bright one”..In conclusion, Rob said: “We have also since enrolled Magashi Trainee Guide, Aisha Kirenga Ingabire on the FGASA training programme, and are confident that she will become the first female Rwandan FGASA-qualified guide in the country. Meanwhile, Alphonse and Innocent will continue to further their studies with FGASA”.Read more about Alphonse and Innocent’s inspiring journey to full FGASA certification on the Wilderness Safaris blog.ENDS.