E4C now also in the Democratic Republic of Congo
SAVE has launched new environmental education program in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The project area at Virunga National Park poses very special challenges: When the Rwandan genocide took place in 1994, millions of displaced people fled the country and found protection and refuge in Virunga National Park. Poaching and illegal farming were the consequences of this emergency. These illegal activities not only destroyed vast areas of forest, but endangered species such as the famous mountain gorillas, elephants, antelopes, and various species of monkeys and buffalo. Many of these animals still end up as bushmeat on the plates of the people living there.
“Against this backdrop, it was particularly important for us to raise people’s awareness of the preciousness of their wilderness in this conflict-ridden and vulnerable area,” says Lars Gorschlüter, founder and board member of SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund. “Virunga National Park is on the Red List of parks at risk of disappearing. And to make sure that never happens, we need to get local people on board.”
After a long preparation, the starting signal was given on September 5: In the village of Kinshe near the national park, the first E4C, i.e. “Education for Conservation” – environmental group for children was founded. Following the example of the meanwhile 36 E4C groups in Botswana, children are to gain ecological awareness through play. The aim is to teach them that wildlife is not an enemy, but a precious natural heritage worth protecting. SAVE Wildlife has created its own teaching books and plans, there are play groups for different age groups, excursions to national parks, project days dedicated to individual animal species.
The team hired two specially trained teachers to teach 40 children for three hours a day. Country Director Remy Kakule was present at the inauguration ceremony and joined in all the games and lessons. The parents were so enthusiastic about the new offer that the number quickly grew to 50 children.
At the same time, the teachers quickly realized that despite all the enthusiasm, there was often a lack of the most necessary things. In some cases, the children have neither toys nor clothes, and some wear the same clothes every day. Therefore, SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund is looking for donors who are willing to provide the children with the most basic things – so that they can fully concentrate on environmental education lessons in the future.