Category Archives: Community

New trees bring new hope for gorillas and people…

Hi, this is Tuver ,

Last week I was invited to a tree planting ceremony at a community in Kalehe Territory, South Kivu. The community is one of many that borders the Kahuzi Biega National Park, one of the last refuges of the endangered eastern lowland gorilla.

Like most of the small towns and villages dotted throughout this part of DR Congo, for many years now, community members have had little choice but to go into the protected forest and cut down trees. They know this illegal and they are know that the ecosystem here is fragile and must be protected at all costs. However, with near-constant war cutting them off from the rest of the country and poverty widespread, most feel they have little choice but to take the risk and enter the forest in search of food and fuel.

Almost ten years ago now, the Gorilla Organization started working with these communities, helping them plant fast-growing trees they could use for firewood. These tress serve as a valuable buffer between gorillas and their cousins in the forest.

And our efforts continue. So far, we’ve planted around 160,000 trees on the borders of Kahuzi Biega National Park, and I just recently watched a few more go into the ground.

As you can see from the pictures I took, the whole village turned out to learn about why the trees are being planted. These pictures should also give you some idea of how much forest has been lost and how we are working to address this. And let’s not forget, more trees is not just good news for gorillas needing food and shelter! It’s also good news for humans, too, as we start to feel the effects of climate change here in Africa.

The whole village turned out to hear why we were planting more trees

The whole village turned out to hear why we were planting more trees

Here are some trees we planted just a short time ago...

Here are some trees we planted just a short time ago…

But as you can see, much of the forest has been cut down to use for farming

But as you can see, much of the forest has been cut down to use for farming

And here's me, checking out the fully-grown trees that help keep the gorillas safe

And here’s me, checking out the fully-grown trees that help keep the gorillas safe

Gorilla Organization Chairman drops by the Goma office…

Ian and Henry talk gorillas at the Goma Resource Centre

Ian and Henry talking all things gorillas at the Goma Resource Centre

Hi, this is Tuver,

Just a few days ago, the Chairman of the Gorilla Organization, Ian Redmond, came to visit us here at the Goma Resource Centre, in eastern DR Congo.

Meeting with both myself and the country programme manager Henry Cirhuza, Ian was especially interested in learning about the work we have been doing in getting young people interested in conservation. Since he himself got involved in gorilla conservation while still a graduate student – remember, he helped Dian Fossey in her research! – he wanted to know all about our education programmes and how they are helping inspire a new generation of gorilla guardians!

Aside from our education and outreach efforts, Ian was also keen to learn more about what we have been doing to help the communities living alongside the gorilla habitat and how me have managed to keep going despite the recent insecurity.

Henry and I took him to see a store full of equipment we will be using to install solar power in the villages around Mount Tshiaberimu, at the northern tip of the Virunga National Park. Once this is fitted, these communities will have a reliable source of power for the first time, meaning they will be able to study and work well into the night and they’ll also be able to use mobile phones – a real lifeline for rural communities in this part of the world. What’s more, by having power, people will have less need to go into the protected forest for things like firewood and food, which is excellent news for our cousins, the gorillas, living there.

Here are a few pictures of Ian’s visit to the Goma Resource Centre. I hope you like them! And if any of you are ever in Goma, you should drop in and say hello, too…!

Ian and Henry reading maps. Can you spot the Dian Fossey picture...?

Ian and Henry reading maps. Can you spot the Dian Fossey picture…?

Ian inspecting the equipment store at the Goma Resource Centre

Ian inspecting the equipment store at the Goma Resource Centre

 

 

 

Celebrating the success of the Wildlife Clubs in Uganda

Pupils planting trees outside one of the schools where the Wildlife Club takes place

Pupils planting trees outside one of the schools where the Wildlife Club takes place

Hi this is Sam,

As you might know, we are celebrating the 12th anniversary of one of our key projects in Africa, The Wildlife Clubs in Uganda. It’s been 12 years since The Gorilla Organization joined forces with this project, which is aimed at educating young people on environmental issues.

The purpose of the partnership with the Uganda Wildlife Authority was to help spread the wildlife clubs in schools that surround the habitat where the gorillas live as well as to raise awareness on the importance of preserving the gorilla and its habitat.

Ever since this project was implemented, specifically in Southwest Uganda, hundreds of activities have taken place including: planting trees and vegetables in school gardens, arts, crafts, music, drama and dance lessons, screening of wildlife documentaries, discussions and competitions. It’s amazing to see the excitement of all the pupils of the clubs that have joined us as well as the development they have raised on environmental awareness, including the protection and conservation of gorillas!

So far, 78 Wildlife Clubs have been established in Uganda and more than 3,000 pupils have become members. Also members and teachers have had the opportunity to take part in excursions to the Mgahinga National Park, where they gained first-hand experience of conservation in action.

I will keep you posted with more amazing news from this project!

Social activities to raise environmental awareness on the pupils

Social activities to raise environmental awareness on the pupils

The excitement and joy of pupils after having their session

The excitement and joy of pupils after having their session

The Solar Sisters are back!

The excitement and happiness of our ladies arriving at the airport

The excitement and happiness of our ladies arriving at the airport

Hi this is Emmanuel,

After a hard six months of training, our special team of ladies, The Solar Sisters from Rwanda, are back and ready to bring electricity to their home villages!

In March 2012, the Gorilla Organization, along with the Government of Rwanda ,UNESCO and the Government of India sent a team of four illiterate women to India to receive special training at the Barefoot College to become solar energy engineers. This project will be benefiting two sectors including Musanze of Musanze district, (Northern Province of Rwanda) and Bugeshi of Rubavu district (Western Province of Rwanda).

If you remember, a few months ago, the first team of Solar Sisters from DR Congo came back from the training in India and successfully installed electricity in the Rusayo village. They also held a couple of demonstrations in Burusi and Ngitse and the plan was to solar electrify 50 houses in each of the two villages surrounding Mount Tshiabirimu (area of Virunga National Park, DR Congo).

The Solar Ladies from Rwanda arrived in mid-September at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda and the excitement took over the place as you can see in the photographs. They were so happy to come back to their families and friends, but most importantly for having learned so much bringing along a lot of benefits to their villages, like giving the children the possibility of study after it’s gone dark and their parents the chance to work past dusk.

I will be sure to keep you posted with more news and updates about this, but for now let’s congratulate our ladies for coming back home safe and sound and for their great achievement in becoming experts in solar energy!

Solar Sisters arriving at Enttebe airport in Uganda

Solar Sisters arriving at Enttebe airport in Uganda

Interest in pedal-powered cinema keeps on growing!

Pupils taking part of the pedal-powered cinema in Kabale

Pupils taking part of the pedal-powered cinema in Kabale

Hi, this is Tuver,

Out of all the projects and initiatives that the Gorilla Organization undertakes in Africa, the Pedal-Powered Cinema is becoming more and more popular among members of the local communities of Uganda.

The idea of having an adapted bicycle that, when pedalled, produces enough power to screen films has been drawing people’s attention and interest and the results speak by themselves!

According to our latest report, 5,581 people from the communities of the Kabale district –western Uganda- took part in the film screenings that were held in 11 schools.

Aside from educating people by screening conservation and wildlife documentaries and great apes documentaries, the communities took part in a range of different activities. At each school, 30 seedlings were supplied and planted to encourage the school community plant more trees and to launch tree planting in the schools that had no tree planting activities. A total of 30 guava, mango and orange trees were planted!

The interest of participants has been also expressed to our staff as many of them have asked about the possibility of someone coming to give them environmental talks. The success of the Pedal-powered Cinema is reflected in the following photographs where you can see a lot of pupils very keen in taking part of this activity!

The last screening took place in schools around Kabale district

The last screening took place in schools around Kabale district

 

Pupils planted guava, mango and orange trees

Pupils planted guava, mango and orange trees

 

Pupils were very keen planting on trees at the Kabale schools' district

Pupils were very keen on planting trees at the Kabale schools’ district

Solar power coming soon to Burusi and Ngitse

The Solar Sisters setting up and installing the first solar panel at the maternity ward of the Burusi health clinic

The Solar Sisters setting up and installing the first solar panel at the maternity ward of the Burusi health clinic

Hi, this is Tuver,

As you know, fighting and general unrest here can make it difficult for us to carry out our work here in DR Congo. Right now, the general insecurity and problems being experienced at Mount Tshiabirimu mean we haven’t been able to transport the solar system equipment we received earlier in the year to the villages of Burusi and Ngitse. As I write this, the equipment is still at Goma but it is secure and all ready to go once the situation gets better.

The good news is that our ladies, the incredible Solar Sisters, already held a demonstration in Burusi to show how the solar panels are put together and how they work. This demonstration was led by the mwami leader of this village and it was a complete success! This first solar panel has already been installed in the maternity ward of the Burusi health clinic, giving this important public health facility a vital source of reliable power.

Once the solar panels and the rest of the equipment arrive in Burrusi and Ngitse, the plan is to solar electrify 50 houses in each of the two villages surrounding Mount Tshiabirimu. This will give local people the opportunity to have electricity in their homes, allowing families to carry on with activities at night and in the early morning.

I would like to thank local radio stations in the area that have been broadcasting programmes explaining the work taking place through this project run by The Gorilla Organization, and I’ll be sure to keep you informed of how this exciting initiative is developing!

The Solar Sisters making sure everything is all ready to electrify the first facility in Burusi

The Solar Sisters making sure everything is all ready to electrify the first facility in Burusi

Naming the Kwita Izina baby gorillas of 2012.

Performers dancing along african rhythms

Performers dancing along to traditional african rhythms before the giving of names begins

Hi, this is Tuver,

As you know, last week I attended the eight Kwita Izina, an annual  ceremony where the baby mountain gorillas born over the past 12 months in Rwanda are officially given their names. As I hope you can see from these pictures, the atmosphere of the event was great and it so many people came from across the world celebrate the arrival of these precious babies and learn more about Rwandan culture.

This year on june 16th, 19 newborn gorillas were given names in Kinigi, the Northern Province of Rwanda. The event was chaired by Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minister of Rwanda and I was one of thousands who looked on with joy as selected dignitaries gave the infants their names.

Some of the given names for this year’s newborns were “Icyeza” which means extreme beauty, “Ishimwe” meaning gratitude, “Itazaba” that can be translated into English as light, “Duhirwe” that means let us be lucky and “Kungahara” which means prosperous. Also, this year twins from the Susa group were born, their names “Impeta” and “Umudende” make reference of a very important and high valuable medal in Rwandan culture.

“The giving of the names for newborns remains an occasion of joy and worth celebrating” declared Ms. Rica Rwigamba, head of conservation within Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and boy was she right! There was singing and dancing and then even more dancing well into the night.

About 161 baby gorillas have been named at the Kwita Izina ceremony in Rwanda since the first festival was held  back in 2005, and The Gorilla Organization has been a proud supporter of each one.

Here are some more pictures from this year’s Kwita Izina for you to enjoy…

Delivering the given names of the newborn gorillas
Announcing the names of the gorilla babies

Digniatiries from both near and far were invited to name this year's gorilla babies

 

Presenting the given names of the newborn gorillas

Presenting the given names of the newborn gorillas

Celebrating the World Environment Day

 

Local people from Goma picking up rubbish from the streets of the town

 

Hi, this is Tuver,

To celebrate the World Environment Day, the local communities of Goma in Eastern DR Congo gathered yesterday morning for a special cleaning activity. From children to women and men, we all worked really hard to clean and collect the rubbish left in the streets and the areas surrounding the beach in Goma.

As part of this day’s activities we all walked along the streets to promote the conference that we later on attended at the ISDR GL University. The themes of this special conference were: “Green economy: what are we doing about it?” and “Problems regarding the disposal of plastic rubbish”.

I hope that this activity makes people more sensitive to the importance of the environment as well as help them to keep their surroundings tidy. Have a look at these pictures I took and learn a little more about what happened on that day…

Promoting the Conservation of the Environment and inviting locals to join the conferences

 

Inviting locals to the cleaning activity of the streets in the town

 

Attending the conferences about the Green Economy and the Disposal of Plastic Rubbish

 

Solar equipment delivery creating a real buzz in Goma…

Solar equipment blog pic 4

Moyoni, one of the Solar Sisters, was delighted to receive her new equipment

Hi, this is Tuver,

As Henry explained last week, we’ve just taken delivery of the equipment our Solar Sisters need to bring power to their villages for the first time. As you can imagine, things are more than a little hectic here right now, but everybody is so excited, not least the ladies themselves who are itching to put the skills they learned over in India to good use.

As you can see from these latest pictures, news of our work is spreading across Africa. Over the past few days, I’ve spoken to the national and regional media about what this delivery will mean to some of the poorest villages in this part of Africa. As I explained to them, by having a reliable source of electricity, people will be able to work and study for longer, allowing them to earn more money that they can spend on food and education. It’s also very good news indeed for the gorillas living alongside these villages as they will be left in peace now that people will no longer have to enter the national park for food and fuel.

So, here are a few pictures from the past couple of days. Just look how excited the ladies are. As Henry said, we’ll do our best to keep you up to date with the project, and on behalf of us all and the ladies themselves, I’d like to thank you for your generous support, without which none of this would be possible…

Here's Moyoni again, checking out the equipment she will use to bring power to her home village

Here's Moyoni again, checking out the equipment she will use to bring power to her home village

Here's Henry helping unload the solar power equipment from the lorry

Here's Henry helping unload the solar power equipment from the lorry

News of the delivery travelled fast. Here I am talking to the reporters about the project!

News of the delivery travelled fast. Here I am talking to the reporters about the project!

A New Year’s delivery for the Solar Sisters…

Here I am welcoming the delivery of the equipment for our incredible Solar Sisters

Here I am welcoming the delivery of the equipment for our incredible Solar Sisters

Hi, this is Henry,

I am writing with some very happy news from here in Goma.

As you may recall, at the end of 2010, the Gorilla Organization sent five Congolese grandmothers over to the Barefoot College in India. Here, despite the fact that all but one of them is illiterate and none of them had ever set foot outside of their home villages before, they trained to become solar power engineers.

Well, now they are back home and about to get the equipment they need to bring electricity to their villages for the very first time! As you can see from the picture below, I personally went along to welcome the lorry carrying $100,000 worth of solar power technology to Goma.

Once it’s been released by customs, we’ll get to work distributing it to our ‘Solar Sisters’, and they will then get busy bringing renewable power to their home communities. By having a reliable source of electricity for the first time, people living in these tiny villages will be able to work and study for longer, easing the burden of poverty and meaning they will be steadily less reliant on the forests that they live alongside, thereby leaving giving the endangered gorillas here the space and peace they need to thrive. How’s that for a good start to 2012?

Of course, I’ll be sure to keep you updated as the Solar Sisters get to work, so watch this space!

The new equipment means the Solar Sisters will be able to put their skills to use

The new equipment means the Solar Sisters will be able to put their skills to use