Category Archives: volunteers

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!

National University of Rwanda Student Volunteers with AoC

From Julie Ghrist

The AoC team and I have had the pleasure of welcoming National University of Rwanda student Emmanuel Mukama. Mukama, as he prefers to be called, is finishing his Biodiversity Conservation degree and I’m sure he will soon be off to a brilliant conservation career.

Emmanuel Mukama volunteering at Art of Conservation 2013Mukama helps Eric build hundreds of darling bird houses for our education program.

Mukama became familiar with AoC’s work while he was conducting research on Golden Monkey mother/infant behavior. These monkeys live in Volcanoes National Park. His technical advisor of Conservation Biology, Dr. Beth Kaplin, sent him our way recently to which we are extremely happy about! Mukama can hardly express how he and his fellow students feel about Dr. Kaplin. She is positively inspiring Rwandans to gain excellent knowledge and plan for conservation careers.

The team demanded Mukama to share with them his Golden Monkey information. Valerie has a particular fondness for these monkeys! Mukama had their undivided attention.

Emmanuel Mukama volunteering at Art of Conservation 2013Mukama and the team after a wonderful Golden Monkey discussion. From left to right: Innocent, Mukama, Valerie, Olivier, and Eric.

“Education is a key factor in changing the mindset of people in how they can live with threatened and endangered animals.” Mukama shared with me.

Emmanuel Mukama volunteering at Art of Conservation 2013At a Rwinzovu School workshop, Mukama engages children during a recess break.

AoC now takes time off from classes as Rwanda begins its Genocide memorial observances. Mukama has returned to his university town of Butare and we look forward to having him back once we resume our conservation and health education classes in April.

Good job Mukama. We appreciate having you with us!

Thanks Jeff! Free English Lessons at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club

From Julie
From Julie

I met Jeff Hahl late last year as he was passing by the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club while Coach Tony was giving the kids their usual weekend tennis clinics. The children offered him a racket, proceeded to make him run around the courts, and really loved being with him.

Volunteer Jeff Hall teaches English at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club. AoC 2013Jeff, at the tennis courts with Coach Tony, surrounded by children after their English lesson.

Jeff now comes every Monday and Wednesday afternoon as the kids get out of school and provides them with free English lessons. I think you have noticed that a community space such as the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club is so crucial for towns and small cities. The yoga class a few weekends ago by our friends at the Ubushobozi Project is another example of a recent event. Space is extremely limited here. Let’s hope the community can continue to thrive here and it won’t be taken away.

Volunteer Jeff Hall teaches English at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club. AoC 2013The children feel comfortable and happy learning from Jeff.

Now Jeff is giving free English lessons to some of the homeless people he gathered from town at the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club two days a week too.

Volunteer Jeff Hall teaches English at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club. AoC 2013Jeff with another volunteer, Sydney, at the courts with homeless people interested in learning English.

Thank you Jeff. We appreciate your work very much!

2nd Annual Children’s Tennis Tournament

This past Saturday in Musanze Town, Coach Tony’s tennis players put on a remarkable show of talent. The children’s camaraderie plus enthusiasm for the game of tennis was clearly apparent, too. By the time I got to the courts in the morning, kids were reapplying paint to the lines, sweeping and watering the clay courts, arranging rented chairs, and beginning their warm-ups. Olivier and I dashed to town to fill the truck with crates of water and bottles of beverages. The players’ parents were invited. Flyers were distributed inviting the community to come and watch.

2011-Children's Tennis Tournament, 11 june 2011, AoCEvartiste and Assumpta head off the court after talking with Coach Tony. Players are ready to begin their matches.

Habibu was last year’s boys champion and last weekend his fellow team mates had it out to beat him. Most days after school they were at the courts practicing in addition to Saturday and Sunday morning clinics. But guess what? Habibu pulled through becoming this year’s champion again! I love all of these kids finding it hard to see some loose their matches and witnessing their tears. Ah, such are life’s lessons.

Parents watch their children play tennis.  Rwanda AoC 2011Player’s parents and friends watched 12 exciting 1-set matches.

The day was beautiful. Rwanda is entering into dry season and a lingering thunderstorm staved off until the late afternoon.

John Bosco serving. AoC 2011Jean Bosco preparing to serve.

This event as well as the recent 3K Gorilla Fun Run and the upcoming performances at Igitaramo, are all children’s activities we organize leading up to Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming ceremony and are registered activities at WED, the UN’s World Environment Day.

Champion Habibu with mom & dad. AoC 2011Champion Habibu with his parents.

Earlier in the week, Coach Tony and I put together prizes for all of the players. Tennis rackets, back packs, t-shirts, shorts, water bottles, chap stick, notepads, pencils, pens, children’s books, boots, jump ropes, and caps had been donated by Bunny Bruning and John Terpkosh from USPTA, USTA/NJTL, Peter Riger of the Houston Zoo, and our recent Simpson College volunteers. Our thanks goes out the them.

Girls champion Uwase with her mom, dad, and Coach Tony. AoC 2011Girl’s champion Uwase with her parents and Coach Tony.

Umpire Josephine with gorilla. AoC 2011The tournament’s umpire, Josephine, with a gorilla after the matches.

You can see more photos on AoC’s facebook page.

Art of Conservation manages the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, where the tournament was held and is providing the funding for the rehabilitation of the courts and the children’s weekend clinics, but at some point in the future Coach Tony will take it over.

Jadofils of Radio Musanze covers AoC’s Public Accountability Day

Umva….. Radio Musanze’s journalist, Jadofils, covers a recently held event called Art of Conservation’s Public Accountability Day – a venue to present what we accomplished in 2010 and the budget used plus our 2011 activities. The event was held at Hotel Muhabura in Musanze Town. Thanks goes to Jadofils for covering the story.

Please click this link to listen and see photos from the evening: Jadofils Covers AoC\'s Public Accountability Day. Musanze Radio

Jean Bosco Ingabire and the rest of the helpful staff at Hotel Muhabura helped make it an excellent evening. Thanks!

Running For Gorillas

What will you be doing on Saturday, 4 June 2011? Please join us in our 2nd Annual 3K Gorilla Fun Run.

We are preparing madly for our events that lead up to Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony and the UN’s World Environment Day celebrations. Simpson College volunteers are with us in the classrooms as we introduce the idea of a road race to the children. Safety and sportsmanship are a must. Today we hear from all students what it means to be a good sport.

3K Gorilla Fun Run preparations.  AoC 2011.At a mock starting line in the Nyange classroom.

If you can’t make it to Rwanda, but would like to support AoC’s conservation education and events, please click here…. and thank you!

3K etiquette.  AoC 2011.How to be a good sport as demonstrated by our volunteers.

Please follow our news on the 3K Gorilla Fun Run here!
Last year’s race blog here.

Volunteers Make LOTS of Briquettes with Cecile

We’ve been sharing with you this week what volunteers from Simpson College in the USA have been doing to help AoC and our partners in Rwanda. Mornings have been spent working with our Primary 5 students in the classrooms. Afternoons include assisting Cecile, our briquette producer partner.

Tiffany and Arron from Simpson College help Cecile.  AoC 2011Volunteers Arron and Tiffany at the press with the recycled material mixture making briquettes.

Innocent, AoC’s alternative cooking fuel consultant, and Cecile provided great training. By the end of the week, Simpson volunteers had made over 1000 briquettes. Cecile did not want them to leave her side!

Ceclie's daughter Monique carries briquettes to the drying table.  AoC 2011Monique, Cecile’s daughter, collects the pressed briquettes and carries them to a drying table. Innocent is here at the press.

Cecile’s Sign Goes Up!
Simpson students put finishing touches to Cecile’s Save The Forests Briquette workshop located along the Kinigi Road which takes you to Volcanoes National Park. Artist Chad Robertson designed Cecile’s logo. Thanks Chad! Eric and Eusbe transferred his design onto metal signage.

Cecile's new briquette sign and Simpson College volunteers.  AoC 2011Volunteers with Professor Virginia Croskery and Innocent.

Now Cecile has a surplus of briquettes and a sign that shows people where to find her… so come on people, stamp out charcoal UES BRIQUETTES!!!!

Heroes of the Forest with Simpson College Volunteers

Another school – another song full of conservation messages. Heroes of the Forest is composed and recorded by Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel for AoC and we have Simpson College volunteers helping us again in the classroom. The children will sing and perform to the song in the upcoming Igitaramo party – part of Kwita Izina – Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming ceremony.

Students working on pronunciation. AoC 2011Children experiment with their voices while learning the lyrics, both in English and Kinyarwanda.

Simpson College volunteers with AoC. 2011.Virginia helps children at Nyange School.

Virginia Croskery, a professor of world music, led this group of 10 Simpson College students from Iowa to Rwanda for a week of work with AoC.

“Gorillas live up by the volcanoes, hey come round. Monkeys in the fields steal potatoes, hey come round.” These are a few of the lines in Heroes of the Forest. Virginia encourages them to really open their mouths and exaggerate pronunciation.

Simpson College volunteer Greg with students at Nyange.  AoC 2011.Jeff helps the children with pronunciation.

AoC teachers-in-training Jean Bosco and Providence.  AoC 2011.Teachers-in-training, Jean Bosco and Providence, watch and listen.

You can’t see here, but when the school whistle blows signaling Nyange’s other students are free, they congregate outside our room and join in with learning Heroes of the Forest. It will be amazing when the entire Northern Province is singing this song which expresses the sentiment of people and animals living together… side by side…. always and forever…. with respect.

Learning In Virunga.  AoC at Nyange Primary School, Rwanda. 2011.In the Nyange classroom.

Rushubi Kids Receive Help From Simpson Volunteers

Virginia Croskery, a professor of music at Simpson College in Iowa, began planning a service learning trip to Rwanda last year. After 10 interested students signed up, Virginia encouraged them to reach out to their community to raise money and gather donated supplies. The group of participants fulfilled Virginia’s request by receiving a check for $1500 plus transporting bags full of supplies to AoC Office in Musanze Town, Rwanda. Truly, I can hardly express how happy my team and I are by their efforts.

I was told the volunteers would not hesitate to get busy where ever they were needed, so our first day was to our regularly scheduled class at Rushubi School. We are quickly approaching Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming ceremony, Kwita Izina, in which our students will perform in the community party called Igitaramo. Well, we haven’t really started to prepare for this important event and capitalizing on Virginia’s expertise in world music and diction, our focus nows turns toward the songs that they will sing and perform and which are full of conservation messages.

Practicing In Virunga with Virginia. AoC 2011.Virginia with Rushubi students.

Our 100 Rushubi students will perform In Virunga / My Birunga – a song composed and recorded by AoC friends Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel. (Click here for more Kaiser Cartel.) This song has two versions, one in English and one in Kinyarwanda.

Practicing In Virunga.  Rushubi Primary School. AoC 2011.Simpson College volunteers, Arron and Anna, help children discover their voices and encourage them to make new sounds.

For many years now, AoC students have been learning Courtney and Benjamin’s songs and as a result have been teaching them to their brothers and sisters, as well. With this 2011 group of kids, they definitely have the Kinyarwanda version down fine…. it’s the English version we are working on today.

Pronunciation lessons. AoC 2011.Children feel the air after Virginia asks them to strongly accentuate and exaggerate their t’s and b’s and p’s and so on.

In spoken Rwandan language, Kinyarwanda, the l’s and r’s are often difficult to transfer to English speaking. We practice a lot on pronouncing words like we’re.

Practicing In Virunga by Kaiser Cartel.  AoC 2011.With In Virunga / Mu Birunga lyrics in their notebooks and lots of encouragement to open their mouths wide, kids are open to experimentation.

We all admitted to feeling wiped out and nearly unable to speak after 3 hours of singing.

Practicing In Virunga.  Valerie and Emily at Rushubi Primary School. AoC 2011.Valerie with Simpson volunteers Emily and Angela at Rushubi Primary School.

I hope you can see that we had a dynamic class and again, thank you very much to Virginia and her amazing group of volunteers. More about their contributions to AoC coming up!

Thank You Simpson College Volunteers!

Thank you Virginia, Anna, Angela, Meagan, Arron, Kayla, Annie, Greg, Tiffany, Emily, and Maggie! I knew you would be a great group to work with, but wow, you were seriously GREAT! My team and I loved having your help in the classrooms, at Cecile’s briquette workshop, at the Ibirunga Tennis court toilet construction, and Friday nights’ AoC event at Hotel Muhabura. I also want to thank you for raising money for AoC and bringing awesome supplies with you in duffle bags to Rwanda. All of your generous support is immensely appreciated.

When are you coming back?

Take care and please stay in touch.