My name is Cynthia Moses, and about five years ago I had the zany idea that I could start a non-profit organization. Here was the motivation. My mom left me $65,000. I didn’t have a real job at the time, but I did have many years of news and filmmaking experience, especially in making wildlife films, primarily in the Congo Basin region of Africa and mostly on Great Apes – gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos.
It was a great way to make a living, but something happened. There was an Ebola outbreak and a group of gorillas I had known over 5 or 6 years of making films about them (and lots of people whose families I knew) died during an Ebola epidemic. I was struck with the idea that the films I was making were not going to make a difference in a situation like this. My work was for Americans and Europeans. It neither encouraged the people who actually shared their habitat with Great Apes to conserve them, nor did it have any effect on preventing zoonotic (diseases that pass from species to species like Ebola) diseases. In fact, I participated and then withdrew from a production by National Geographic that only made Ebola look like another hopeless African disease that came from a continent riddled by frightening dark diseases.
So fast-forward to 2010. I am now Executive Director of a 501(c)3 non profit called INCEF (International Conservation and Education Fund) and I work with teams of local media professionals in the Congo Basin (and sometimes in other places) who make videos and with local education team who then literally walk these videos from village to village using portable rechargeable projectors, ipods and speakers.
Technology for INCEF isn’t internet, iPhones or iPads. We go where there is no wifi, no cell phone coverage, and deliver to people who have no idea that they are considered part of a global community. In fact our education teams walk, bicycle, and sometimes boat or even occasionally hitch a ride thousands of kilometers and reaching 100,000’s of people.
Here’s what we do: locally made videos for local audiences in local languages. Most of the people who see these videos have never even seen a live chimpanzee except as smoked meat!
Almost 94% of the audience we reached say they won’t eat Great Apes after watching our films. That’s probably pretty high, but even if they are thinking about it, we’ve made a difference. 92% said they would no longer harvest, or even touch carcasses they find in the forest. This is huge since they have no idea how those carcasses died or what diseases they might be carrying. Is Ebola present, probably? Has our work prevented a possible outbreak, maybe – but since 9 in 10 people die from the disease can we afford not to see this as progress.
So, I thought by reaching the audience who is most responsible for wildlife, most at risk of passing diseases back and forth to them, I could actually make a difference. And we have.
Visit our website: See our performance report on our website, watch a few films.
I also thought people would want to support it, that we would provide a service to the bigger organizations working to save these species by supplying them with an expertise they didn’t have. They are great at creating websites, making films that promote their work and raising funds. They are not great at involving local audiences in their own issues.
Well, perhaps you already know the end of this story. We’re broke. Why are we broke? We’re broke because first of all I suck at raising money. But we’re also broke because none of the money to save gorillas and chimpanzees or prevent Ebola or other zoonotic diseases (look it up if you missed it above) is available to our work.
This is where Mr. Gates comes in . Did any one read how 700 million dollars couldn’t prevent polio? I went to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website and it says specifically that they will not fund projects that provide Exclusively social or behavioral interventions — well if you want people to take a vaccine, shouldn’t you educate them about it first, change their attitude or any superstitions and then get them to change their behavior toward taking that vaccine?
Its called bottom up, grassroots, involving people in the determination of their lives, empowering the locals with information that can well, save their lives. Sultans don’t care. Even governments don’t care. One country we work in has just 3.5 million people. They’ve received about 100,000 million dollars to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Do the math. 65% of the population we’ve reached in that country have never received education on AIDS, Polio, Malaria – It takes a village and until everyone realizes that education has to start at that end of the spectrum – well 700 million in one decade, 700 million in another… and on and on.
Dear readers our education teams are now well on their way in the Likouala Region along the Oubangui River in the Republic of Congo working their way from village to village. The number of refugees have swelled many of these villages to 6 times their size! And they will be working hand-in-hand with local health care personnel. We expect them to reach as many as 80,000 people over the next several weeks.
Also, Eric Kinzonzi, our Education Coordinator has returned to Brazzaville and will be supplying us with stories from his work in collaboration with WWF in Salonga National Park.
Over the next few weeks we will bring you updated blogs on this work several times a week. Please stay tuned-in.
INCEF Education Teams Respond to Refugee Influxhttp://www1.voanews.com/english/news/africa/central/UNHCR-Begins-Registration-Of-100000-Refugees-From-DRC-81729002.html
Three INCEF education teams have just begun a 30 day voyage to 18 villages to help raise awareness among the more than 100,000 refugees that have fled inter-tribal violence in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. They will reach more than 80,000 people with videos and discussions on basic health practices, sexual violence, prevention and treatment of emerging viruses like Monkey pox and Ebola.
The response is part of INCEF’s collaboration with UNICEF and they are working closely with UN staff to coordinate their outreach as they travel by motorized pirogue down the river stopping at village after village.
INCEF has just finished training twelve new educators to disseminate films in and around Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in collaboration with our partners WWF.
The training, led by INCEF Education Coordinator, Eric Kinzonzi and WWF Education Coordinator Frederick Yoko, covered everything the educators would need to launch a successful education campaign, including the use of equipment to project films, techniques for fostering discussion and learning among participants before and after film projections, and the use of INCEF’s before-and-after questionnaires for impact evaluation. In addition, the educators were also instructed on what to do upon arrival in a village, how to work with village leaders to secure their active cooperation, and INCEF’s regulations on personal conduct.
Fom from January 5 to March 4, the teams educated a total of 18,520 people in 71 villages. The teams covered 342 km, mostly on foot or bicycles. Many readers may realize that the terrain in Salonga is some of the most difficult to navigate in Africa.
The set of films disseminated was as a result of a collaboration between INCEF and The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC) and addressed Monkeypox. The second module addressed hunting and nutrition issues.
These teams are scheduled to continue their work throughout 2010 and we’ll bring you the results of their work as we move further into the year.
Ella and Eric are just one of three INCEF teams working in the Republic of
Congo. Together all three teams covered more than 50 towns and villages
in 2009, and reached thousands of individuals.
Results from the questionnaires not only showed that villagers remembered
what they had learned the previous year about both Great Ape Conservation
and Ebola Prevention, but gave preliminary indications that these
villagers are changing their attitudes about protected species, emerging
viruses, and the need to seek alternatives to commercial bushmeat hunting.
Six additional INCEF teams are working with villagers around Africa’s
largest tropical rainforest reserve, Salonga National Park, in neighboring
Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).
As Ella and Eric move on to the next village, your support will help us
continue our groundbreaking grassroots effort to reach the people whose
daily activities have the largest impact on the well-being of all species.
To see many of the films that have become part of this effort, please
visit our video gallery: http://www.incef.org/video-gallery or INCEF1 on
On Day Four of their journey Ella and Eric are not only getting responses from the villagers on what they have seen, but demonstrate the portable technology they use to screen videos in remote villages. INCEF’s creation is due to the revolutionary change in communications technology and the fact that the barriers to production and dissemination – technical, physical, financial – have either disappeared or have been greatly reduced.
Today we’re posting Day Three of Ella and Eric’s journey in Northern Congo. While the team in Congo work, Seamus Gallagher, INCEF’s Program Officer is prepping to travel to Salonga National Park with one of our production crews to work on films about Public Health, Cynthia Moses (INCEF’s Director) is in Juba, Sudan consulting with WCS and their South Sudanese Colleagues to create a series of films that will educate people there about Conservation and Law Enforcement of protected areas.
We do not yet understand the complex of priorities that drive the decisions that are undermining the natural world. Priorities of people in positions of power differ from those who are powerless and desperate merely to survive — we have got to understand all of these. Nothing is harder than working on both ends of the spectrum towards what might become a sustainable future. Day Two — Ella and Eric begin to organize their work — and to let people know, their job is to both give information and to listen.
Click here to watch Day Two of “Five Days on the Road” and please spread the word!
This is the beginning of a five day journey with INCEF educators, how they use film to educate in remote places that have little access to other education, and the people who’s lives they help change.
To watch the video, click this link: Day One
Every three days a new video will go on our new blog at Wildlife Direct, and on our website. We are now Tweeting, and we would love for you to pass the word along to everyone you know. For years we’ve been able to see the “magic” INCEF’s films make in the field and how dedicated out educators are, and we want you to see it too. Please follow along as we share Five Days On the Road.