During the last several weeks we've witnessed the Congo Project rise to a new level... one thing has lead to another and suddenly it seems the pygmies will soon have a permanent piece of land!!!
Long story short, this is what happened:
There were 2 parallel projects going on to help the same Buyungule pygmy community:
- The Pygmy Farming Project: by Zerofootprint, with the help of Canadian Ape Alliance and us as Green Beat. This project leased a plot of land for the members of the community and provided training in order to launch a farming initiative, while raising funds tu purchase the land in the near future, as well as providing a vehicle for the project and building a school for the children of the community.
- The Pygmy Land Project: by Empower Congo Women, with the help of Margaret Johnson and Betty Merner from the U.S. This project aimed at raising funds for the purchase of land for the community.
Both projects' contact on the ground in Congo was Dominique Bikaba, Executive Director of Strong Roots Congo, an NGO based in Eastern DRC. It seemed pointless to have two separate initiatives towards the same goal. During the past 18 months Green Beat, Zerofootprint, Canadian Ape Alliance, Margaret and Betty were able to put together a total of $40,000 USD, So logically, we decided to join forces and funds, and buy the Buyungule community the land they need!
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO DONATED!!!! WITHOUT YOU THIS WOULDN'T BE HAPPENING!!!!
Dominique is now researching various land options for us to check out when we arrive next week. We are looking for approximately 10ha (25 acres) of land and will consider factors such as:
- Easy access via main roads
- Proximity to where the pygmies oare currently living, to facilitate their relocation
- Quality of soil
- Rain capture possibilities
- Water harvesting possibilities
- Legal status of the land to make sure the community's ownership will be secured
So everything is looking good and we'll arrive in DRC next Friday, October 7th!
THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS!!!