Tag Archives: Rwanda

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!

Building A Future For Children In Rwanda

Construction is underway at the Rushubi and Nyange Primary Schools where Art of Conservation (AoC) works in Rwanda. Each building will include a library, classrooms for our students, director and teacher offices, and restroom facilities. We will also equip the schools with classroom desks and chairs for the students and paint conservation murals on the buildings to reinforce our messages.

Since 2007, AoC has partnered with these two rural schools, which both border Volcanoes National Park, to provide conservation and health education and install water tanks and hand washing stations to improve the health of the students and teachers.

School directors asked for our assistance. Their students learn in overcrowded classrooms that are in very poor condition. Many of the classrooms hold up to 50-100 students at a time and these numbers continue to grow. This inspired us to help.

The AoC-funded construction of new classrooms will reduce over-crowding and improve student-teacher ratios and overall learning. Additionally, we’ve created jobs for over 70 local builders working on the construction projects. The new buildings will benefit over 600 students and 80 teachers, as well as directors and administrative staff.

Help AoC continue to build a brighter future for children in Rwanda, donate now.

Africa Weeks For The Animals: Part 6. A Tribute to Dian Fossey & Her Gorillas

All of us here at Art of Conservation continue joining Animal World USA-International in its 2nd Africa Weeks for the Animals. We are featuring an inside look at our conservation and health lessons taught in Rwanda by the AoC team focusing on the protection of the critically endangered mountain gorilla. Mountain gorilla habitat consists of two small areas in Africa- The Virunga Massif and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With only 786 mountain gorillas left in the world, I hope you will agree that intense effort must continue to be made for this species survival. AoC’s role in gorilla protection involves working with rural communities which surround gorilla habitat. Today’s focus… Dian Fossey.

Dian Fossey was born in the USA in 1932. In 1966 she began her pioneering mountain gorilla research at Kabara Meadow, Democratic Republic of Congo. Dian stayed at Kabara Meadow only a short time due to civil unrest and moved to the Rwanda side of The Virunga Massif. She established her Karisoke Research Centre in 1967 between Mt. Bisoke and Mt. Karisimbi until her murder in 1985.

Alliance studying mountain gorillas and Dian Fossey. Art of Conservation 2011Alliance shows us her painting of Dian Fossey as she imagines Dian would be in the forest studying her beloved mountain gorillas.

Children's paintings of Dian Fossey studying mountain gorillas. Art of Conservation 2011A student’s painting of Dian Fossey in the forest as she sits on a fallen tree observing playing juvenile mountain gorillas.

Children's paintings of Dian Fossey studying mountain gorillas. Art of Conservation 2011Student’s paintings.

Children painting.  Art of Conservation 2011.In the classroom.

Children's paintings of Dian Fossey studying mountain gorillas. Art of Conservation 2011A picture by a student of how we imagine Dian Fossey to have been observing gorillas.

Children's paintings of Dian Fossey studying mountain gorillas. Art of Conservation 2011More fantastic pictures by the children.

Children painting. Art of Conservation 2011Beautiful kids in the classroom.


Art of Conservation joins Animal World USA-International in its 2nd Africa Weeks for the Animals beginning 1 August 2011! Throughout this week, we will be featuring an inside look at our conservation and health lessons taught in Rwanda by the AoC team which focus on the protection of the critically endangered mountain gorilla. Mountain gorilla habitat consists of two small areas in Africa- The Virunga Massif and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With only 786 mountain gorillas left in the world, I hope you will agree that intense effort must continue to be made for this species survival. AoC’s role in gorilla protection involves working with rural communities which surround gorilla habitat. Please click here for more on AWUSA-International Weeks campaign.

The Honor of Meeting The President

All of us at AoC are deeply honored to recently have had the opportunity to meet Rwandan President Kagame. Team AoC and friends, along with Coach Tony and children of the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, waited patiently in the sunshine which turned into rainfall which eventually turned into the evening darkness leaving us very skeptical as to whether or not we would actually meet His Excellency.

Early Friday afternoon at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, Musanze Town RWANDA.  AoC 2011.Coach Tony’s wife, Olive, and their twins with sweet Assumpta and Clementine. Harriet and a group of tennis players and runners.

The morning of that day as Coach Tony raced me around the tennis court for a glorious hour of exercise, I noticed banana trees being placed along the main road which signals preparatory measures of a VIP passing through.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for President Kagame to arrive at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, Rwanda. AoC 2011.Innocent, Olivier, Alberto, and Valerie at the tennis courts…waiting. I hold our gift to President Kagame with Valerie, Innocent, and children standing by. The president’s motorcade approaches!

Back at the office, Harriet tweeted President Kagame with an invitation to stop by Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club as the children had a gift for him. He tweeted Harriet back with an OK, thank you!

President Kagame shaking hands with Habibo...top player for Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club.  Art of Conservation 2011. Rwanda.Welcoming the president. The children are elated and shake hands with their president.

Recently the children confessed to Coach Tony that they wished they were more recognized by the district. I think their desire was remarkably surpassed after meeting the president! The exhilaration shown on their faces is something I will never forget.

An honor to meet the president. Art of Conservation 2011.President Kagame with members of Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, Coach Tony, and AoC members and friends.

Occasionally spontaneous ideas turn into reality, with the brilliance of Harriet’s Tweets, that benefits a whole lot of children by lifting their spirits and confidence. Ah, so wonderful! We are grateful to you, Mr. President.

President Kagame accepts our gift. Art of Conservation 2011Graciously accepting the t-shirt, President Kagame says it is just the right size.

Excited to meet His Excellency, we return to AoC House for pizza and dancing.  2011We walk home singing and dancing.

What a sensational evening! Thanks, Alberto, for taking the photographs! Thanks, Patricia, Bunny, John, and USTA/NJTL for your continuing support!

Rwandan Schoolchildren Need Your Help!

Dear Friends,
Right here, right now…..Art for Gorillas has its donate button active and ready to accept your kind and generous support! Your financial contributions go directly to our conservation education program, Art of Conservation, which works closely with schoolchildren living near the border of Volcanoes National Park – home of the endangered mountain gorillas. What better way to ensure a healthy future for all living things than by engaging these young children in learning and exploring the world around them? All of us at AoC sincerely thank you for your support!

Rwandan Schoolchildren Need Your Help! Photo by Molly Feltner. AoC 2010A scene from our recent Parents Open Houses in which our students performed skits, dances, and songs about the lessons we have covered thus far. Parents, AoC staff and I were deeply touched.

Stop Spreading Germs

Germs are often too tiny to see with the naked eye, so we use flour as an example of how easily germs spread and therefore can enter our bodies and make us sick.

Germs spread when we sneeze and cough.  Flour helps demonstrate.  Photo be Molly Feltner. AoC 2010Students are asked to sneeze or cough with a small amount of flour in the palms of their hands. See how easily the germs fly!

Germs enter our bodies through our mouth, eyes, ears, nose.  AoC Stop Spreading Germs lessons. Photo by Molly Feltner. Rwanda 2010.After handling everyday objects, shaking hands, or not washing hands after using the toilet, germs can enter our mouths, eyes, ears, and noses. Our students can easily see this by pretending that the flour are germs.

We teach our students to cough or sneeze in the insides of their elbows. Rwanda. AoC 2010.  Photo by Molly Feltner.Practice, practice, practice is what we tell our students about coughing or sneezing into the corner of their elbows.

Photos courtesy of Molly Feltner.

Mugabe’s First Pot of Rice over Briquettes

We continue to bring you updates on a new alternative fuel project AoC, in partnership with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, launched last month in Musanze District.

Recently we brought home our first locally made stoves and cooked up a pot of rice. To our great happiness, AoC staff member, Mugabe, prepared a pot of rice which produced relatively little smoke and in a short amount of time. Habibo, our sweet, young neighbor, enjoyed a late afternoon bowl of freshly cooked rice.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/nXdS19MWBLw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Video, Mugabe’s First Pot of Rice over Briquettes.
Instrumentals by Kaiser Cartel.

Alternative, Sustainable Fuel Technology in Rwanda

Rwandans living near the Virunga rainforest, a protected ecosystem home to about 450 endangered mountain gorillas, can now help combat deforestation and raise their own standard of living thanks to the introduction of an alternative, sustainable energy technology: fuel briquettes composed of recycled materials that can be made easily with simple wooden presses. Last month, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP), in collaboration with Art of Conservation and the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN), took the first steps to establishing the technology in the region by training a group of 20 Rwandans to make briquettes.

Charcoal, a fuel that requires the burning of large quantities of trees to produce, is presently the primary fuel source used by the communities near the Virunga forest in the trans boundary area between Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Alternatively, briquettes, which are made using recycled paper and discarded plant materials like rice sheaves, are cheaper and cleaner-burning. As an added benefit, the production and sale of briquettes offers locals in this economically depressed region the chance to earn extra income.

The briquette making technology, which has been championed in DRC by ICCN officials in Virunga National Park, was brought to Rwanda at the request of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. “Deforestation from the charcoal trade is a threat to the mountain gorilla habitat in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda and the use of charcoal causes respiratory illness in the human population, which can be passed on to gorillas,” said John Huston, MGVP’s Agriculture Project Coordinator. “When we saw the success of ICCN’s briquette program in Congo, we thought it was vital to bring the technology to Rwanda.”

Jean Bosco Bichamakara, the head of ICCN’s Energy Production Program, lead a two-day briquette making workshop in Musanze for Rwandans participating in MGVP’s agriculture partner program and members of the Kinigi community living near Volcanoes National Park, who were sponsored by Art of Conservation, an organization dedicated to educating Rwandans about conservation.

“Although we use charcoal now, we know we need to use a different kind of fuel because we need the forest to produce rain for our crops and clean air to keep us healthy,” says Cecile Nyirabahutu, a Kinigi community leader. “Briquette making will also help our community earn money so we can better take care of our families.”

Immaculee Uwimana, one of MGVP’s agriculture partners, is using a briquette press donated by ICCN to start the initial production of briquettes. MGVP recently purchased Uwimana’s first batch of 500 briquettes to use at the MGVP headquarters in Musanze. Bichamakara estimates that once Uwimana and her team are more practiced, they will be able to make 1,000 briquettes per day—enough fuel to supply a typical Rwandan family of eight for a month. MGVP and Art of Conservation plan to work together with local artisans to build more presses.

Much effort is still necessary to ensure the success of fuel briquettes in Rwanda. In addition to building more presses, MGVP and Art of Conservation will coordinate future trainings and marketing and begin a community recycling program to collect materials for making the briquettes. MGVP will also purchase briquettes for use at their facilities to help establish a market for the new fuel.

“This is one small step forward in the greater process of eliminating the charcoal problem in the Virungas,” said Julie Ghrist, Director of Art of Conservation. “But by working together—different countries, different organizations, and different groups of local people—we have a much greater chance of success in the long run.”

About the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project
Founded in 1986 shortly after the death of Dian Fossey, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project provides veterinary care to the approximately 750 mountain gorillas living in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It monitors the health of wild mountain gorillas, treats trauma and illness, researches significant issues in gorilla health, and develops protocols and partnerships to support the Mountain Gorilla One Health Program in the Virungas and environs. It works in close partnership with the governments of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other gorilla conservation organizations to achieve mutual goals, and its work is shared to strengthen wildlife conservation efforts around the world. The MGVP depends upon grants and donations to conduct its operations. More information: http://www.gorilladoctors.org.
About Art of Conservation

Art of Conservation, Inc. works in poor rural communities surrounding Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, teaching schoolchildren and other community members about the importance of maintaining a healthy environment for both people and animals and instilling them with an understanding and respect for themselves, their peers, and the natural world. Art of Conservation approaches learning through a unique method, using visual, auditory, and performance arts to teach lessons and inspire creativity in its students. In partnership with other organizations which attend directly to the well-being of the Volcanoes National Park ecosystem and its resident mountain gorillas, Art of Conservation seeks to fill the education gap in the local communities through its activities. More information: http://www.art-of-conservation.com.

You’re Invited! Holiday Fundraiser at Maverick Images

Holiday Fundraiser benefiting Art of Conservation

Underwritten by
Maverick Images, the Gallery
4642 Riverstone Blvd.
Missouri City, Texas 77459

Monday, December 21, 2009
7:00 pm

Minimum $50 per person dontation
Food and Wine provided

RSVP 281.471.0941
by December 18

Offices at Riverstone Blvd.
at Hwy. 6 and Riverstone Blvd.,
4 miles south of Hwy. 59

Please learn more about Maverick Images and photographer Michael Loyd Young at:
Maverick Images: The Gallery on Facebook and Michael Loyd Young with Gruppe 28.

Protect nature! Caring for the Environment in Pictures.