Category Archives: one-health

Yefei Volunteers With Conservation Heritage – Turambe

Hey there!

My name is Yefei Jin and I’m a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in Minneapolis-St. Paul, USA. Earlier this May, I received the fortunate opportunity to get involved with Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT). Though a network of local nonprofit organizations based in Musanze, Rwanda, I got connected to Valerie, the Program Director of CHT.

Yefei volunteers with CHT in Rwanda 2014

Not losing much time, I quickly participated in CHT’s weekend visits to primary schools near Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, about an hour drive from Musanze. CHT recognizes the role of Rwanda’s youth in becoming the social change agents of tomorrow. The teachers here including Valerie, Innocent, Olivier, Eusebe, and Eric dedicate their time to educate the children about conservation and health values. In this photo, Valerie is describing one of those values “Staying Healthy”. Today’s lesson was on keeping a clean home to prevent the spread of disease. I had the opportunity to partially teach the class on this topic through songs and ice breakers. The staff here was definitely eager to see new ways of teaching!

Yefei volunteers with CHT in Rwanda 2014

The pedagogy behind CHT’s work with the children utilizes the fine arts as tools to teach, understand, and live out CHT’s 7 values: respect, honestly, trust, creativity, kindness, healthy living, and celebrate. The instruction is delivered in English with Kinyarwanda translation. Here is a photo of a guest presenter suffering from podoconiosis which caused the swelling of her feet. By sharing with the class her experience, she hopes that keeping a clean home will prevent such diseases from happening to others.

Yefei volunteers with CHT in Rwanda 2014

This is a picture of me teaching some wacky handshakes to the students. I’m hugely thankful for the CHT staff to allow me to fully participate in their school visits. They are curious to learn additional strategies on student engagement and fun activities which can be incorporated in future lessons. I bring knowledge on theatre education and as I continue to brainstorm with the staff, we hope to provide the children with a unique and unforgettable experience!

Please keep up-to-date on more Art of Conservation & Conservation Heritage – Turambe news with our e-newsletter. Simply send us your name and contact information to [email protected] Thank you!

Allison Contributes To The Gorilla Journal

From Julie

Allison Hanes writes about the work of Art of Conservation in the latest Gorilla Journal. In addition to Allison’s article, you’ll find other important news including a discussion on the economic value of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I’d like to thank editor Dr. Angela Meder for putting out such an informative journal and for incorporating Allison’s article in this latest edition.

Please click here Gorilla Journal No. 47, December 2013.

Please keep up-to-date on more Art of Conservation news with our e-newsletter. Simply send us your name and contact information to [email protected] Thank you!

Thank You Friends! What Would We Do Without You? NYC Part 1

Thank you for making our Exhibition & Fundraiser at Pratt Institute Manhattan a very special event.

Sponsors, volunteers, board members, musicians, Pratt faculty, friends and family generated the most positive energy for a common goal to make Earth a more healthy place for all.

Please enjoy the photos below courtesy of Jason Rearick and Marcus Alexander of Epoch Times. Click here for more coverage of the evening at Epoch Times. I wish I had had my camera too but it was so nice to have time with guests. Dr. Lucy Spelman’s keynote was well received with everyone commenting afterward that the one-health concept becomes clearer and clearer all the time and the need for a multidisciplinary approach to conservation is essential. More photos are surfacing, but for now here you go. Be sure not to miss our famous photographer Andrew Walmsley dressed up in his magnificent kilt straight off the plane from Scotland! Thank you again and again from the Art of Conservation team.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Allison with Philip Choi and Joseph Canciglia of the Norman and Bettina Roberts Foundation.

Jackie & Julia at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Jacky and Julia help with auction items and merchandise.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013A roomful of wonderful friends.

Andrew, Julie, Allison, Cheryl. AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Andrew, Julie, Allison, and Cheryl. Allison and Cheryl did a fabulous job putting together the event!

Musicians Courtney and Benjamin at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Courtney and Benjamin of Kaiser Kartel play a sampling of music written for AoC.

Musician Rubin Kodheli at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013At the close of the evening we listened to beautiful cello music composed and played by Rubin Kodheli.

Lori Howe at AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser, NYC 2013Board member Lori Howe viewing and purchasing photos on display.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Allison with Daniel Azarian and Wendy Kaplan.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Exciting auction items!

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Paintings and gift bags!

A successful evening thanks to all.

AoC’s World Premier Short Film at New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

From Julie

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Art of Conservation’s Allison Hanes and Cheryl Stockton helped present our World Premier Short Film at New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in October. This film was made to share with the public the successful work AoC has been carrying out in Rwanda for over seven years, as well as highlight our present expansion with new initiatives in Guyana, Panama, and other locations this year.

New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival October 2013

Thank you New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival for putting together talented compassionate individuals and groups doing amazing conservation work. It helps keep the spark alive being surrounded by the energy of such wonderful people doing such important work.

AoC’s Exhibition & Fundraiser is quickly approaching. Click here and get your tickets today!

For more information and ways to get involved with AoC please email [email protected]

A Conservation with Jeremy at Mongabay

From Julie

Recently I had the fortunate opportunity to have a conversation with Jeremy Hance at Mongabay. Jeremy serves as senior writer and editor. He is the author of Life is Good: Conservation in an Age of Mass Extinction.

Please click here to read our story Art, education, and health: holistic conservation group embarks on new chapter

Thank you Mongabay for allowing AoC to be part of your excellent rainforest and nature conservation news!

©mongabay.comPhoto courtesy of Mongabay

Kwaimatta Village in South America

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While in most parts of the world everyone seems to be exploiting natural resources, cutting down rain forests, destroying fragile ecosystems, Guyana is doing something different. Under its Low Carbon Development Strategy, Guyana receives USD 50 million per year from international partners to protect its forests. Of course one needs to read in more detail to discern the pros and cons to this, but let’s be thankful for this long-term development plan and hope it works and others follow. Guyanas rain forests benefit us all no matter where we live.

The Karanambu team took Allison, Lucy, and I to communities in the Northern Rupununi to conduct our one health conservation activities. This entailed boating to get to the schools.

Geography at Kwaimatta Village. ©Art of Conservation 2013I started off with a geography activity. This young girl marched right up to the world map and placed the South America card in the absolutley correct place.

Our first village – Kwaimatta (Massara)- is the closest and perhaps most secluded of all three we visited. In general, this area is a critical watershed between the Amazon and Essequibo rivers. The open savanna and riverine plain is stunning.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013We talked about the local animals and discussed what makes them so special and then out came the markers, crayons, and paper masks.

A number of the children attending Kwaimatta Primary School have parents that are employed by the Karanambu Trust and Lodge.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Children decorating their animal masks.

As you may remember from a previous post, Des Moines artist Amy Harris helped AoC with the otter, monkey, jaguar, macaw, and arapaima masks. Thanks again Amy! Do you love the masterpieces?

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Blue jaguars in Guyana? Right on!

Here I am in a new part of the world – experiencing new cultures and trying out AoC’s curricula. It is safe to say that no matter where you are children want to learn and discover.

Decorating animals masks at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Salvador tries to scare the kids with his Red Howler Monkey mask. I think they are on to Salvador! Not scared at all.

We had a few extra moments to end our time at Kwaimatta so I did a quick oral health lesson with toothbrushes and paste for everyone.

Oral health at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Allison and Salvador distribute toothbrushes and paste.

Diane McTurk with students at Kwaimatta Primary School, Guyana. ©Art of Conservation 2013Diane McTurk with her Kwaimatta Village children.

It was a pleasure to end our class with outdoor craziness including singing and showing appreciation to the villages’ beloved Aunti Di.

Please join us at Pratt NYC on November 22nd. Get your tickets here!

One-Health Conservation At Karanambu

From Julie Ghrist

More on our recent trip to Guyana-

Andrea and Salvador de Caires manage the Karanambu Trust and Eco-tourist Lodge in Guyana, South America. Visitors are spoiled by their delicious garden-to-table snacks and meals, rum punches, and more. Andrea and Salador have lived such interesting lives and bring their experiences to Karanambu so with partners they are making it a perfect example of one-health conservation. What do I mean by one-health? Take a closer look at what goes on at Karanambu every day… research, training, tourism, community development, wildlife rehabilitation, wild & domesticated animal health, human health, water projects, environmental education, partnerships with surrounding eco-lodges and NGO’s, creating sustainable jobs for the local Makushi Ameridian population. And the list is not complete but I think you’ll agree it’s a lot for this off the beaten track enclave in the far interior of the country. One health conservation involves the consideration and practice for saving species by realizing that all living things are connected. There is hardly an aspect at Karanambu that is not being mindfully treated.

Please enjoy the following pictures and meet the special people of Karanambu. Allison, Lucy, and I miss them and look forward to seeing them again.

Andrea de Caires manages Karanambu Lodge. ©Art of Conservation 2013Andrea de Caires and friend Oswin. Oswin is a graduate from Dr. Godfrey Bourne’s CEIBA Biological Center ecology course and an artist.

At Kwaimatta Village with Salvador. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy, Salvador, Kwaimatta Primary School headteacher Iris, Diane McTurk, and school teacher. Iris is so pleased to receive a copy of Lucy’s recently published National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia. Click here to order your copy.

Jerry with his camera traps. ©Art of Conservation 2013Gerry Pereira. Gerry, the nicest guy, is everywhere doing everything at Karanambu. Here he is pictured fixing one of his camera traps during our morning hikes.

Jerry at his computer inputing data from his camera traps. ©Art of Conservation 2013Gerry inputing to his already huge database of the biodiversity in the area. He showed me loads of photos of the magnificent animals passing by his numerous camera traps.

Ronica at Karanambu. ©Art of Conservation 2013Ronica. Ronica, another graduate from the ecology course, is a fabulous role-model to her peers in the rural villages. She is making an income and furthering her education while keeping her strong connections with her land.

Getting of the plane. ©Art of Conservation 2013Royal, Marcie, son of Marvin’s, Marvin. Loving care is given to all members of the Karanambu family. Nurse Marcie transports a sick family member back to Karanambu to be close to his loved ones.

Salvador with Nurse Marcie. ©Art of Conservation 2013Marcie and Salvador. Relieved to get a sick family member back to Karanambu, Salvador and Marcie breathe a sigh of relief.

Thank you again Andrea and Salvador for your lovely hospitality.
More to come… classroom activities and animals!

Please go to www.karanambutrustandlodge.org for more information.

Over The Mountains Of The Moon

From Julie Ghrist

Allison, Dr. Lucy, and I had a few quick hours of sleep at the pretty Cara Lodge in Georgetown before our charter flight took us into the interior of Guyana. This remote and sparsely populated landscape is where in the 16th and 17th centuries Europeans believed that there was a place of immense wealth known as El Dorado. Searches for this treasure wasted countless lives and drove at least one man to suicide. Now El Dorado is referred to as a source of untold riches somewhere in the Americas. At the bottom of this post you’ll find Edgar Allen Poe’s poem where he makes reference of El Dorado being located ‘Over the mountains of the Moon’.

Georgetown to Karanambu, Art of Conservation 2013Allison and Lucy boarding Trans Guyana Airways charter flight to the Northern Rupununi region of Guyana.

A bit tongue-in-cheek, we were not searching for pots of gold – instead we were on a quest to find eager schoolchildren ready to engage in AoC’s one-health conservation education activities as well as view heaps of beautiful animals in their own biodiversity-rich landscape. Guess what? We found it all and more!

Guyana, Northern Rupununi by plane.  ©Lucy-Spelman 2013Approaching Karanambu Lodge in North Rupununi from the plane. Photo courtesy of Lucy Spelman.

As I mentioned before, Art of Conservation is honored to have been invited by Lucy and the Trust to Karanambu. Lucy has shared stories about Karanambu for all the years I have known her. And Allison and I were really looking forward to meeting the famous Giant River Otter Lady, Ms. Diane McTurk!

Meeting Dian McTurk and Ilsa. ©Art of Conservation 2013The legendary Ms. Diane McTurk greets us. We are joined by Dr. Ilze. (From left to right: Lucy, Allison, Ilze, Diane McTurk)

Ms. McTurk was born at Karanambu. Karanambu is a 100-square mile former cattle ranch her family owned that is now a Managed Resource Protected Area or at least headed that way thanks to the collaborative effort of the Karanambu Trust and partners. Diane is known for her work in rehabilitating orphaned giant river otters to the wild since 1985. The pelt trade, natural trauma, and people taking them as pets are the main reasons why she has ended up with more than 40 otters.

Allison with Diane McTurk. North Rupununi. ©Art of Conservation 2013Allison with Diane McTurk, the famous Giant River Otter Lady or Auntie Di as she is known all local Makushi Amerindians.

Before continuing to the lodge, Dr. Lucy was asked to make a quick house call to a sick bull calf. Marvin, a Karanambu staff member, was pleased to receive Lucy’s advise and after a few days the calf was feeling better.

Northern Rupununi with Diane McTurk.  ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy and Diane treating Marvin’s sick calf.

At Marvin's. ©Art of Conservation 2013This fabulous toucan is the first bird I saw in Guyana.

There may be as many as 600 species of birds in this area. The number of all animals species found here is high and includes species that are rare in other parts of Central and South America. Perhaps this is because of an integration of 4 ecosystem types: wetlands, savannas, rivers, and forests.

Salador de Caires invites us to his boat. ©Art of Conservation 2013Salvador de Caires invites us onto his boat.

Our final stop for the day – Karanambu Lodge – requires a boat to get there. Salvador de Caires, who with his beautiful wife Andrea run the lodge with the nicest of hospitality, gets us there safely. More on Andrea and Salvador in my next post.

Lucy & Diane McTurk on our way to Karanambu House. ©Art of Conservation 2013Lucy and Diane.

This is just a glance at the very beginning of our trip. I have lots more to share with you. Please stay in touch. And here is the poem.

Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old-
This knight so bold-
And o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow-
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be-
This land of Eldorado?”

“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied-
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

More Lessons On How To Stay Healthy

From Julie
From Julie

Late last year, Lori Howe, Ellen Strachota, and Tracy Levine arrived in Rwanda to visit us and with them they brought huge duffle bags filled with dental supplies donated from their friends in Des Moines, Iowa. We just loved it and love them! This week, each student receives their own toothbrush and toothpaste and are incredibly pleased – most likely their first time ever to have such things.

Staying Healthy lessons. Art of Conservation March 2013Upon receiving toothbrushes and paste, these boys closely examine their new gifts.

We discuss the importance of oral hygiene as well as the traditional methods for brushing teeth each day such as using a pointed tip of bamboo or eucalyptus twigs and cloth tied at the end of a twig. All of the students have a chance to sit in front of mirrors and watch themselves as they brush their teeth for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Staying Healthy lessons. Art of Conservation March 2013Eusebe encourages the children to brush gently and thoroughly.

Thank you again Lori, Ellen, and Tracy for bringing us such excellent supplies – they are being put to good use!

Saving Gorillas Through Educating and Empowering Communities

From Julie
From Julie

Back to school! This week my team and I return to the field every morning to teach darling Rwandan children how to better care for themselves, their community, and the environment. Every morning we pack our truck at the AoC office with fantastic learning materials and travel up towards the Volcanoes National Park.

Class #1 for 2013 Art of Conservation, RwandaA photo of students taking our pre-questionnaire. Doesn’t quite seem fair to quiz the kids on their conservation & health knowledge at our first class meeting, but these questionnaires help measure our teaching skills and the childrens understanding.

Art of Conservation annually provides 200 children – 10 to 16 years of age – living in rural communities bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park with over 20,000 hours of comprehensive conservation and health education. Additionally, AoC conducts workshops one Friday and one Saturday per month.

Class #1 for 2013 Art of Conservation, RwandaOur first session together sets the stage to a safe and nurturing learning environment. These girls celebrate at the end of todays lesson.

Our conservation lessons focus on the importance of protecting the health and stability of the local ecosystem, with special emphasis on the critically endangered mountain gorilla. AoC’s health and personal care classes help students learn to lessen the instances of human illness being transmitted to the gorilla population by people living in and near the national park.

Please stay with us and better get to know the team, our new teachers-in-training, students, and their families.