Sahaya International is proud to partner with the Rafiki Memorial Wildlife Conservation Initiative
The Rafiki Memorial Wildlife Conservation Initiate is a new organization, registered in September 2020 in Uganda (click here to see the certificate of incorporation).
It is named in honor of Rafiki, a well-known silverback who unfortunately was killed by poachers in June 2020 (click here for more info).
This initiative is the brain child of Mushamba Moses. He is a local artist (painter/sculptor/musician). Here is his personal story:
My name is Mushamba Moses born on 21st, June 1991 at the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
The situation around the game park was very worse. The only benefit was eating free bush meat. My father had a local brew bar where poachers would come after their hunts to sell bush meat. Because of this background, my first childhood friends were basically poachers as they could give me free bush meat and buy me sweets.
This made me grow up with my initial dream to become a poacher because it was the most easiest way to make a success . Nothing did I know that this had many negative effects, both to the globe and to my local community.
When I joined school I got to know how my area was a big deal as it had a most significant wildlife including the then critically endangered mountain gorillas,
It’s from this time that I started feeling the love for my community and I felt doing a change that my community deserved.
When I finished my advanced level, among my options in studying many courses, I opted for a diploma in art and design because I felt using the language of art to create an impact through creating a real illusion of what we own,
With my experience in craft making, wood curving, painting, drawing, pottery and cultural music, I felt sharing it with my community members to benefit from the local tourism market that is currently utilised by people from other parts of the country and who are doing their shopping mostly from the capital Kampala. My dream is that it will improve their livelihoods, hence they start to see themselves lucky neighboring the UNESCO heritage site,other than seeing it as a curse.
Thank you in advance for any support you can provide.
A sustainable community where people can have productive lives and live in harmony and respect with nature and wildlife, with total abolishment of poaching.
Mountain gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (click on each picture to see a high-resolution copy)
Our objectives: Education-Empowerment-Conservation
- To educate the local communities about the importance of the country’s wildlife. This will be done by creating awareness campaigns against vices like poaching on all major media platform, including radio, television, music and drama shows.
- To create community participation in domestic tourism activities to promote the rights and responsibility thereof. We aim to awaken people to the reality of having a sense of belonging in their beloved country, Uganda.
- To ensure fair treatment of the community members settling around wildlife areas, we intend to advocate for their safety against the wild animals, fair compensation from government and also to ensure that they get to share in the blessings from the tourism attraction.
- To create awareness to the local community of epidemic diseases (such as cholera, dysentery and others).
- To promote human rights, including the right to girl child education. Aids for charity Uganda, will help educate community members about the importance of educating girl children and why they should be given the opportunity to go to school. In addition to empowering girls and women, this will also reduce the number of early marriage and child pregnancies.
- To provide skill-training to people in the community, especially the youth, to make them independent and self-sustaining. Examples are art, farming, carpentry, brick laying, and soap making. With these skills, they will engage into commercial business and therefore improve their way of life.
- To provide the youth, orphans and children with disabilities with basic equipment like sewing machines and other infrastructure to start a job and support them to become organized in community-based working units to affectively run and manage their business.
- To undertake any other work that promotes general welfare of the people by meeting their most urgent needs. This includes medical assistance to people suffering from diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer.
- To mobilize resources to assist orphans and other vulnerable children to give them a proper education and a productive life in society. Without interventions, these children and youth are prone to waste their time and engage in improper behavior.
- To protect the disadvantaged, whether it is an individual or a community section, from any form of exploitation and discrimination. This will be done through empowering and guiding the disadvantaged and improving their economic status by training them on income-generating activities (e.g., farming).
Update April 2021: We are exciting to announce the opening of our headquarters, near the entrance of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. A big thanks to donors who paid towards the rent and some upgrades (such as painting and the hand-manufacturing of some furniture). We are in the process of converting this rented house into our headquarters. In addition to exhibiting art by Mushamba and providing information about our conservation efforts, the center also highlights paintings by local youth who are being trained by Mushamba. As part of the art projects, the youth are educated about the importance of conservation. On April 10, 2021, the first official exhibition for the general public took place, where some of youth also provided the visitors with explanations about their paintings.
Click on a picture to see a larger version
We are very interested in helping the Batwa people. They are forest pygmees, and the original inhabitants of these forest areas. When the forests were transformed into a national park, they were evicted and have been living on the edge of society, struggling to survive and maintain their culture. We aim to start a number of programs with them to give them a sustainable livelihood that also leads to conservation of nature and wildlife. This includes vocational training and getting them more involved with the tourism activities. Click on each picture to see an enlarged version.
Planned activities for the immediate future:
- Due to COVID-19, and the decline in tourism, some people have resorted back to poaching in order to find food for their families. To reform them, and prevent others from becoming poachers, we need to meet their most urgent needs:
- Mobilize emergency food donations
- Provide people with the simple tools and resources for farming: a tilling hoe and panga (machete) per house hold, maize and bean seeds for farming, a vegetable sack mound.
- Then in a later stage, to achieve self-reliance in the long run, we will provide the reformed poachers with trainings in the skills of small scale agricultural farming such as bee keeping, bricklaying, tailoring, hairdressing, tourism, catering, mechanics and driving, metal fabrication.
- Mushamba is also in the process of starting art classes with local children and youth by teaching them how to paint nature, as a way to teach them about conservation.
- Through a close collaboration with Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation (www.piccmadagascar.org), a coloring book with stories of mountain gorillas and local communities is currently being developed as a resource to educate children at a young age about the importance of conservation.
- Update January 2020: soon a building at the entrance of the park will be rented and will become the headquarters for Rafiki Memorial Wildlife Conservation Initiative! This center will be an art shop, have space for art classes for local youth, and will also have information on conservation both for tourists and local people.
Any contributions towards this program will make a difference!
How you can support these programs:
Contributions to the this program via Sahaya International are tax-deductible in the USA. If you like to make a contribution, you can do so in different ways:
- To pay by credit card or paypal, go to our donation page. When you make the donation, enter in the “in honor of” or notes section “Rafiki Wildlife” so we know your donation is earmarked for this project.
- You can mail a check, made payable to “Sahaya International” to us. Add in the notes field “Rafiki Wildlife”.
1504 Portola Street
Davis, CA 95616
Many thanks in advance for your support.
Update November 2020: With the first funds that were raised thanks to Sahaya International supporters, local community members were provided with a bag of rice (to meet some of their immediate needs) and also a farming hoe to help them in farming their piece of land. Several of the community members belong to the Banyabutumbi tribe (recognizable by their small stature) who have a long history of coexisting with nature and wildlife in a sustainable way.
More plans to provide these communities with sustainable livelihood that promotes conservation and coexistence with nature are in progress.
(Click on each picture to see an enlarged version)
Some of the art by Mushamba (Moses) (click on each picture to see a larger version). The picture captions indicate if it is still for sale (all others have already been sold).
Children/youth art classes offered by Mushamba (click on each picture to see an enlarged version)