Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
By Adams Cassinga, Democratic Republic of Congo (Cohort 16)
I am a park ranger and a wildlife activist. I founded Conserv Congo to preserve the biodiversity of the Congo basin. I do this by empowering park rangers with training and logistical support to deliver their mandate, and promotion of scientific tourism. I also upgrade subsistence farming as a way of fighting food insecurity and alternative to poaching as well as wildlife conservation through education of masses especially the youth.
A core of Conserv Congo is also to train and equip rangers with skills to effectively carry out their duties and also protect themselves from the many dangers they face in the line of duty. With a high prevalence of commercial and subsistence poaching in all our parks, at least 200 rangers are killed in the line of duty every year. This is because many rangers in the country are without or with just basic training and thus many times the rangers find themselves under equipped than the poachers they fight daily.
My wow moment for having gone through the YALI program is in the networks I build with my fellows. Today I have been able to join hands with other alumni whose initiatives focus on environment and wildlife conservation and together we walk the journey of transforming Africa. It is so nice when you know that you are not alone in the steps you take and that you can always bank on someone else to boost your growth. This is the effect YALI has had on me and I have seen tremendous growth in my organization from these connections.
How else would you put it, if before going through the Center I was only working with 5 people, compared to now when I have 15, and many more who come to us on a volunteer basis? We only had one park to serve back then, but now we are serving 5 in total, and co-managing one with the government. After leaving the Center, I was energized and more visionary. This energy pushed me to train over 400 park rangers, leading to my selection, along with two other rangers, to go to Poland later this year for a specialized anti-poaching course. The impact I am having post the YALI program has been so immense that I have been invited to the White House to speak about the protection of African Elephants, just after I attended the Ivory Crush in New York last year!
We have hosted over 20 volunteer ecotourists who come to our country for various reasons including research and leisure. This way we share selflessly our natural blessing with the rest of the world. The DRC has a pivotal role to play in regional conservation due to its geographical location and size and we are pushing our country in that direction through our day-to-day activities.