What we do

The problems:

  • Mountain gorillas are on the brink of extinction with around 1,000 animals left in the wild. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the few protected habitats for mountain gorilla populations. Fortunately, conservation efforts have been helping to protect them from poaching and deforestation, but they continue to need help to survive and thrive.
  • The Batwa people are forest pygmees, and the original inhabitants of these forest areas. In 1991, 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.
  • Communities in and around Bwindi benefit directly and indirectly from gorilla tourism, but receive only a small fraction of the money that is spent by tourists. The local communities make extreme efforts to survive but the temptation for poaching and deforestation remains.
  • Some small initiatives have been set up, but they can benefit from capacity-building (incl. marketing, business planning).

Our goals are based on 3 concepts:

Conserve

  • Thanks to financial support provided by Sahaya International,  Rafiki has purchased a hillside farm plot adjacent to the National Park and begun construction of a “Rafiki lodge” to host volunteers, donors, researchers, and tourists. The rest of the plot is currently being replanted with native trees.
  • We also have the goal of restoring adjacent farmland into native forest for the expansion of gorilla habitat.

Empower

  • We plan to train local communities on the construction of affordable and energy-efficient Rocket Lorena stoves to reduce deforestation (in collaboration with Belgian student organization Humasol and Sahaya International).
  • Rafiki is hoping to implement a banana tree fiber production unit: banana trees, which are difficult to compost, are made into fiber that is used to make mats, rugs, sanitary pads and other products (in collaboration with Humasol).
  • We plan to implement additional sustainable and conservation-promoting income-generating activities for the local communities, including the Batwa people, via partnerships with other local community groups.
  • PICC’s professional film team plans to make a documentary highlighting Mushamba’s efforts to transform his community’s livelihoods and their relationship with the local biodiversity

Educate

  • Rafiki is partnering with PICC to plan sessions in photography, sketching and storytelling to educate and engage the Batwa and Buhoma communities in order to support gorilla conservation and provide conservation-based jobs.
  • A book will be published of student art and storytelling, focused on gorilla conservation. Published in Uganda, it will be sold to tourists, with proceeds supporting conservation education.
  • Rafiki is partnering with the Bwindi Plus School at Buhoma, to support the education of children, especially in art.

 

Our approach: Partnership, Transparency and Sustainability

  • Instead of reinventing the wheel, we believe the most efficient way to make progress is by supporting and partnering with community leaders and other grassroots organizations that are already doing good work, but are struggling to find the resources to do their work. Wherever we see gaps, we try our best to fill them in. Click here for a list of some of our partner organizations.
  • We value your support, as we know that just like us, you donate to help those in need. Therefore, we want to make sure that your contribution is used properly, by working with local people and organizations that we can trust, using accountability and transparency.
  • In all our efforts, we aim at finding sustainable solutions, by empowering local communities to solve their own problems.

Rafiki’s art program:

To learn more about Rafiki’s art program and gallery/shop, please click here to visit the page.

Activities of our partner organizations:

Below are some pictures of some of the past activities of our partner organizations (click here to learn more about the partner organizations). Click on a picture to see an enlarged version.