Otoko

Going ape over Congo chicken project

When I decided to travel to the DRC as a field assistant, many people warned me not to go

Campbell River’s Kirsty Graham is currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo studying bonobos (chimpanzees). Graham’s task is to film mother and baby bonobos as they communicate using gestures.

 

Kirsty Graham

Special to the Mirror

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has had a violent, tumultuous history – from Leopold’s brutal colonisation to the civil war under Mobutu.

The eastern provinces are still shaking with conflict, and the country’s infrastructure is far from recovery after the exodus of foreign investors. When I decided to travel to the DRC as a field assistant, many people warned me not to go, and I don’t know if my mother will be fully comfortable with my decision until I make it safely back home. I assured everyone that the field station would be isolated; just a few researchers and trackers following bonobos (chimpanzees) deep in the jungle.

In fact, while the region is unbelievably isolated, the station is on the main dirt path that connects village after village. Far from the middle-of-nowhere station that I expected, there is always something going on. At first it was overwhelming; the missionary legacy has left many people expecting wealthy foreigners to bring supplies and money. If it had not been for an invitation from my new friend Gilbert, I might still feel powerless.

At the end of my first week, I agreed to go with Gilbert to an “ADEWA” meeting. I didn’t fully understand what the meeting was going to be about, but Gilbert’s enthusiasm convinced me to accompany him.

ADEWA (l’Association du Development de Wamba) started as a bit of a joke. After the war, the new government promised development and increased standards of living across the country, but when they failed to deliver, Wamba’s local leaders figured that they could do a better job. For almost nine years, ADEWA has been creating agricultural projects, assisting with the construction of a healthcare centre, and most recently introducing solar panels for radio communication and rechargeable batteries.

Gilbert explained, “when the missionaries came here they brought a lot of money, and it helped us a lot. But then during the war, they had to leave and a lot of projects collapsed. If we want projects to last forever then first we need volonté (willpower). Now the villagers participate in projects and know that they will be rewarded later on.”

ADEWA is an officially recognised non-governmental organisation. Its mandates are to educate community members, to protect the forest and bonobos, to improve agriculture to lift the population out of poverty, to offer employment through micro-projects, to provide members with access to loans of up to $5, and to evenly distribute the earnings of all projects. The council holds four meetings every year, but each project holds weekly meetings and the members frequently arrange larger meetings to discuss important issues. Everyone is welcome to become a member, and they are encouraging more women to join by allotting an even number of positions to men and women for each project.

At the end of this inspiring meeting, ADEWA presented me with a chicken. The chicken represents one of the most successful projects started several years ago. Now ADEWA have so many chickens that they are building new enclosures in two more villages.

While ADEWA don’t want their decisions to be run by outsiders, they readily accept financial assistance. When I told my mother Carol about this meeting, we were both fired up with a desire to help a grassroots cause. She came up with the brilliant idea to make ADEWA chicken Christmas ornaments to sell as a fundraiser.

These little chickens will be on sale at the Willows Market, so if you are looking for a special gift this holiday season please swing by.

A little money in Canada goes a long way in the Congo!

 

Just Posted

UPDATED: Fire completely destroys home in Campbell River

Cause unknown in fire that gutted Willow Point home on Sunday

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

By David Gordon Koch Campbell River Mirror Smoke billowed from the steep… Continue reading

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read