A remarkable traveller

14 Mar 2011

It is with great sadness that we learned recently of the death of Roger Diski, a great friend of Rwanda and of Survivors Fund (SURF).

Roger Diski

Roger Diski in the Nyungwe rainforest, Rwanda, in February 2011. He forged unusually deep local connections wherever he went. Photograph: Katharine Viner (from www.guardian.co.uk)

Roger was a true pioneer, a social entrepreneur, an activist. As founder of Rainbow Tours, he developed the model of sustainable tourism and helped to promote post-genocide Rwanda as a tourist destination and in the process raise awareness of the situation of survivors today.

He was a committed donor to SURF, and following the sale of the company he continued to advise us on developing new initiatives to reach out and engage the many visitors to Rwanda. Most recently we had been in communication about developing a survivor-led historical tour of the country in partnership with AVEGA Agahozo (based on a similar initiative of the Vietnam Women’s Union).

As the Guardian obituary reported, Roger had felt a need to “disrupt” his life in retirement, planning to work with asylum seekers in the UK.  And as the Independent obituary revealed, he had been planning a book on the role of sustainable tourism in post-conflict countries. He would have no doubt drawn from his extensive experience and expertise on Rwanda. I only hope that this work will be undertaken, if only in memory of Roger.

May his memory be blessed.