The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Building A Gorilla Orphan Home And Need Your Help

The blog post that follows is written by Joel. Joel is with us for a month to help us out on this campaign to raise funds for Ndeze & Ndakasi.

This is what he wrote today - and you will be hearing more from him over the weeks to come!

“The day before yesterday I traveled by car from Goma to the Headquarters of the Virunga National Park in Rumangabo. The two places are only 40km apart but because they are connected by a road that has never been paved and has been pitted by subsidence, lava and traffic it seems further. To complete the journey it takes one hour and twenty minutes of driving on roads almost blocked by pedestrians, motorcycle taxis and trucks. Drivers pass one another with centimeters to spare and everyone overtakes.

In truth I was glad to leave Goma. It is a dirty, crowded and confusing place (imagine how Ndeze & Ndakasi feel). I felt more comfortable as the lava flows that wrecked the airport gave way to a more recognizable dirt road. We gradually stopped talking as we settled into the drive and I sensed that we were all happy to be heading up into the forest. It rained. Everyone walking on the road fixed their eyes on the huge ruts seemingly terrified of getting the red-brown water fired onto their clothing by a passing vehicle. We passed the last village before Rumanbago Camp, where Indian UN troops with twirled moustaches sat desultorily in the back of a white jeep, and pulled into the compound.

The Park Headquarters is large building with turned down eves and expansive verandas. It’s the sort of building in Europe - with both residential and administrative spaces and large grounds - that used to be turned into a boarding school. There is a collegiate, almost monastic, feel to the place. The Congolese flag flies outside; splendid against the forest.

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The main building that was in the midst of the conflict this time last year, and is now rebuilt.

The Senkwekwe Centre stands about 300 meters from the main building. To get to it I walked down a sloping, narrow track in the forest past men with bricks for the walls of the centre.

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This is the wall being built brick by brick, as your donations come in…

The forest is far less humid and dense than I expected. The high tree canopy is disturbed almost constantly by primates. Layers of birdsong are grounded in the constant roar of countless insect. The mountains on either side of this part of the forest are more of a presence than a view. Through gaps in the trees you can see their dark shoulders pointing steeply into cloud implying great heights. On one side the land drops away onto a plain. On the other side of that are the milles collines of Rwanda.

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This is what you see as you walk down towards the Senkwekwe Centre. You can see the wall, and beyond that is the future home of Ndeze & Ndakasi. This photo also gives you an idea of the vegetation that awaits…

The Senkwewke Centre is well underway. About fifteen men were working on the perimeter wall and four others were installing electrical fittings. The outer area is big enough that you have no sense of the walls that enclose it. The inner space is a rectangle of about 40 by 40 meters and still has no sense of being enclosed, I think partly because the centre is on a slope and your eye-line lifts your gaze away from the ground and so from the wall. The building that will house Ndeze and Ndakasi is about 12 meters by 4. It is tremendously peaceful and a world away from Goma.

Just out of sight of the main building are some smart houses, built for the senior rangers, and the building containing the brick-making machine. The machine can make 1200 bricks a day and so can easily cope with the demands made by the construction of the Senkwekwe Centre.

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And here is the brick machine, made by Hydraform. This is about 600 meters from the Senkwekwe Centre - so not far at all to transport the bricks.

Nearby is the village school, which was built very much in parallel with the centre by The Murry Foundation. The school wall bears the name of the foundation and is within a kilometer of the centre. From outside the classrooms you can hear the sound of children repeating lessons and see a pile of brightly colored shoes at the foot of the door.”

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Please donate! Help us give Ndeze & Ndakasi a new home. Thank you.

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