Hello Greenwood Elementary School students in Des Moines, Iowa USA.
We received a note from your teacher that you are having fun learning about Rwandan Fifth Graders during your Computer Lab class. Perhaps someday you will visit Rwanda and meet the people and trek in Volcanoes National Park to see the mountain gorillas. Keep up with your great work at school and enjoy the winter holidays! See you back here at Art for Gorillas! Here are a few photographs for you of the endangered mountain gorillas. Aren’t they beautiful?
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Photo by Molly Feltner 2009.
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Photo by Molly Feltner 2009.
Thank you, Mary, for encouraging your kids to explore the world around them!
A comment from Mary, teacher at Greenwood’s Computer Lab:
Yesterday, 25 U.S. Fifth Graders spent their Computer Lab class reading your blogs and studying the accompanying photographs. We listened to the beautiful song, “Sow a Little Kindness”, and watched children their age plant trees and celebrate their hard work. They asked question after question about the Rwandan children, their lives, their homes, and their schooldays. I was moved by the complete focus and interest these 25 students expressed. We’ll visit you again!!
Valerie, Eric, and I grab our shovels and hoes and set out on Rwanda’s closing day of National Tree Planting Week. A few days earlier our students and the AoC team planted seedlings to our already established ‘mini-forest’ – adding more beautiful indigenous species along with agroforestry types to the schoolyard. Please click here for earlier post.
Police men and women help plant calliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus) and alnus (Alnus glutinosa) seedlings. Community work duty from the local prisoners included digging holes for the seedlings so the work was extremely easy. We throw the shovels and hoes back in the truck – don’t need them.
Stanislas Kamanzi, Rwanda’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, asks local authorities to help in the tree planting campaign on government and private land.
Helping to prevent soil erosion, we add seedlings to steep slopes for terracing.
The public is told that the trees are also a potential source of income through charcoal burning and timber production.
With so many police recruits and local community members we deplete the seedling supply quickly.
Waiting around for more seedlings to arrive.
Ready to go home,Valerie, Eric, and Jean Pierre Ndagijimana, an environmental officer in Musanze District – the district in which AoC works – pose for a photo. We also discuss ways in which we can foster a stronger partnership and invite Jean Pierre to meet our students during next year’s conservation education classes.
Forest Buffaloes are a commonly seen wild animal for the kids we work with in Kinigi – a place bordering the national forest. In the wee hours of the morning, the buffaloes leave the protected area of Volcanoes National Park to graze in the community land. So it may be that our students don’t fully embrace these animals, but it is also important for us to examine their own unique part of the ecosystem.
Here’s a video of our classroom lesson surrounding the forest buffalo with Eric teaching in Kinyarwanda and Innocent’s English translation.
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Forest Buffalo Video.
According to Rwanda’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, almost 20 million trees – both forest species and agroforest species – will be planted this week throughout the country. This morning, AoC’s Eric, Innocent, Valerie, and I loaded the truck with seedlings from the AoC garden and headed to Kinigi to meet our students and plant trees.
Earlier this year, our students planted seedlings outside of their school. Please view earlier post.
Minister Kamanzi is at Gishwati Forest today where efforts are being made to recover lost forest due to human encroachment, deforestation and small-scale farming.
Planting more trees with the help from my dog, Ibyiza.
Rwanda will be attending the Copenhagen Summit for Climate Change in December.
We’re finished for the day with 100 additional seedlings in the ground.
More from Mr. Kamanzi at AllAfrica.com.
Dr. Jean Felix Kinani is MGVP’s Rwandan in-country field veterinarian. Today he visits AoC’s class at Nyabitsinde Primary School.
A student volunteer pretends to be a sick or injured mountain gorilla as Dr. Jean Felix and Innocent prepare the kids for what’s about to happen next.
Wearing a mask to help prevent disease transmission, Dr. Jean Felix has darted his pretend patient with anesthesia. From here the gorilla will be treated or a snare will be removed. Usually a reversal is administered and the patient awakens quickly after a procedure.
Pretending mops and brooms are trees and bamboo, the students act out a possible scene in the forest while the vets attempt to help the endangered mountain gorillas.
Thank you Drs. Magdalena, Jan, and Jean Felix for sharing with our young Rwandan students what you do to help the mountain gorillas. Your expertise and dedication is remarkable.
Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project’s Rwanda-based vets take time out of their busy schedule to visit our students and shed more light on HOW and WHY they treat the endangered mountain gorillas. Dr. Jan Ramer, MGVP Regional Veterinary Manager, is here today with AoC’s Rushubi Primary School students. Like Dr. Magdalena who visited a different set of kids previously, these gorilla vets encourage our young students to work very hard in school so that perhaps they can be vets one day. Let’s hope!!!
Dr. Jan gives a student a chance to experience what it is like to hold a dart gun. She reiterates that the vets do not carry guns with bullets – only guns with medicine!
It’s a lot more difficult in the forest to prepare the syringe and dart gun so that the patients don’t see – let alone to fire the gun with the syringe hitting the correct spot on the gorilla.
After a very exciting and informative talk with the kids, Dr. Jan settles in for computer work while the students paint their papier mache mountain gorillas. What a great class! Thanks Dr. Jan for your visit. Please come back next year with a new group of aspiring naturalists and vets.
MGVP’s Dr. Jean Felix next!
Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project’s Rwanda-based vets take time out of their busy schedule to visit our students and shed more light on HOW and WHY they treat the endangered mountain gorillas. Dr. Magdalena, an expert on wild animal health care, talks with the kids and lets the kids practice with some of the tools she uses to treat gorillas in the nearby forest.
AoC’s Innocent and Eric stand by to translate and help Dr. Magdalena as she opens up her medical kit which includes all necessary equipment needed for treating sick or injured gorillas in Volcanoes National Park – quite a bit of equipment to be carrying up the steep volcanoes.
Dr. Magdalena prepares a flying syringe with either antibiotics or anesthesia. Innocent is translating her English to Kinyarwanda.
Innocent pretends to be a tree as Dr. Magdalena and a student prepare to shoot the dart gun containing the prepared syringe out the classroom door. We all made sure no one would be walking by! Kids screech with excitement with the sound of the dart gun and the launching of the syringe. They also get a much better idea of how the Gorilla Docs work in the forest!
Dr. Jan is next to enlighten the kids. Please tune in next time.
AoC’s Parents as Partners Open House at Rushubi Primary School.
All photos courtesy of Molly Feltner.
Wow, oh wow, we had a great turn out at our second open house! We didn’t even offer (nor will we ever) banana beer or per diems!
A future student? We are hopeful that this young child’s brother or sister–who was an AoC student, now a ‘graduate’–is handing down lessons to her such as the basic habits of personal hygiene, respect for oneself and others, and a sense of wonderment about the world they live in.
Gifts were given to students who received top marks on the final exam, who had perfect class attendance, and for putting forth exemplary effort throughout the school year. The woman pictured above, on the far right, stands proud after her daughter receives an award in all three categories.
After Dative’s poignant letter she read aloud, I gave her a huge hug.
The teamwork of Eric, Innocent, Molly, Valerie, Phocas, Amahoro Tours driver Emmanuel and assistant Hassan, teachers, and students was remarkable. We simply can’t do what we’ve been trying to do if not for the commitment of this dedicated group of people.
All photos courtesy of Molly Feltner. Manirabizi’s mother was the first parent to show up with her child at Nyabitsinde Primary School for Art of Conservation’s Parents as Partners Open House. We invited her into Manirabizi’s AoC classroom to begin looking through an envelope of the art work he had done throughout the year.
If only one parent of one of our 50 students show up–I thought to myself–then AoC’s team effort would seem worth every moment. It was great to see Manirabizi’s mother responding to her son’s work.
Next arrived Nyiranjijuke and her mother.
As the classroom fills with students and parents, Innocent directs the group to take the time to look through the children’s work and around the classroom at the Word Wall, maps, artwork. Everyone enjoys snacks and juice.
This photograph illustrates so much of what we’ve been hoping for… communication.
I nearly melt listening to Manirabizi’s poem he wrote in honor of his ‘other’ parent, me. With concentrated effort, he recited his poem aloud in English with Innocent translating in Kinyarwanda. This is his poem.
Thank You Our Parent
Let us give our thanks
For our parent
Who loves us children.
Dear teacher parent,
You help us all sides!
You give us all skills.
You give us knowledge.
Not only knowledge
But also school materials.
You help us about tourism
From you, I know our country’s capital
From you I am good at art.
Of course, wherever I go,
Never forget you!
My name is Manirabizi. P. 5, Nyabitsinde Primary School. Thank you again.
To love, protect, and feel compassion for a mountain gorilla is to really see a mountain gorilla – in all its shapes and forms. Our students have always been told that they should protect mountain gorillas – their immediate neighbors in Volcanoes National Park. Being told is one thing, but to understand and develop feelings of compassion is another. Art of Conservation’s approach toward inspiring young people to really care for each other, animals, and the entire natural world is through dialogue, exploration, and art.
Please view our video from two class sessions of creating papier mache mountain gorillas.
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Take The Time To Care, Video.
AoC student Job proudly displays mountain gorillas he and his classmates made. Photo by Molly Feltner.