This year, because of the covid19 pandemic, the Bath Half Marathon is going to be run ‘virtually’.
Teo explains why he decided to get involved …
“After picking up running at the start of the first lockdown, I’m now fortunate enough to be able to run a half marathon (or I like to think so at least). Given the virtual Bath Half on 13-14 Mar coincides with my birthday weekend, doing it seems a no-brainer. I want to use this opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the Pole Pole Foundation in their mission to conserve the Eastern Lowland Grauer’s gorilla in the South Kivu region of the D R Congo since their main source of income, tourism, had stopped due to the pandemic.
It was Diane Harrison – owner of The Eating Gorilla Vegan Café in Gwynedd, North Wales that inspired me towards this cause. I thorougly share her vision that a plant-based diet is the ‘single biggest thing we could do to protect not only the animals, but our environment, our health and ultimately our future’ and appreciate her donating all profits from the café’s ‘Be More Gorilla’ themed merchandise towards the same goal.
Thus, this year I’m kindly asking anyone who would like to, to make a donation towards my cause – it would really make my birthday and mean the world to me helping save such unique beings. Your support is much appreciated! 😊”
The fundraising effort will see donations of profits from the café’s ‘Be More Gorilla’ themed merchandise including reusable coffee cups, T-shirts, hoodies and pens.
It follows a chance encounter between The Eating Gorilla owner Diane Harrison and The Pole Pole Foundation trustee, Nikki Jones, who visited the café whilst on holiday.
“We opened our vegan café and restaurant in 2019 after transitioning to a plant-based diet a couple of years earlier,” said Mrs Harrison.
“We believed that this was the single biggest thing we could do to protect not only the animals, but our environment, our health and ultimately our future.
“Nikki called in for afternoon tea last summer and she explained how the Pole Pole Foundation was protecting the gorillas and we knew we wanted to help. She told us how the main source of income for the Park, tourism, had totally vanished due to the pandemic. Our ‘Be More Gorilla’ merchandise seemed the perfect way to start our fundraising.”
Diane’s t-shirts, hoodies and other merchandise can be ordered by contacting ‘The Eating Gorilla’ via their Facebook page (here) The Eating Gorilla or by calling them on 01766 770292.
The good news to share is that POPOF has managed to address all sicknesses and hardships that the Kahuzi Biega National Park rangers have faced in the last ten months. These were and still are:- 1. Ten unpaid months. 2. Lack of daily rations when deploying to patrols. 3. Lack of equipment such as rubber boots, rain jackets. 4. Limited fuel for trucks to allow deployment of rangers in the field for patrolling in search of infractions in the park, etc.
The last funds for buying the rubber boots and rain jackets for rangers were donated by the POPOF UK team in 2019. Imagine one pair per person and one jacket to a person wearing these everyday and no missing days?! Both items were already torn. The funds for the last rations composed of sardines, maize flours, rice and medications were funded by our friends at Africa 2030 nine months ago under the Covid 19 crisis.
This time the rangers of Kahuzi have suffered a lot of the daily empty stomachs and naked body but obliged to deploy in the forest in search of infractions. As a former ranger who lived in the same parade everyday in the KBNP’s yard for 23 years and who faced such difficulties, I could not resist hearing each of them crying and alarming for the starvation. I went and introduced myself to our partner Tanglewood in New Zealand. Papa Pierre, the owner of Tanglewood, could not resist after hearing the cries of the brave men and women who are defending and dying for the noble causes of the conservation of the last Eastern lowland Gorillas in the East of DRC. He did what he could and made transfers to allow POPOF to buy all of the rations, medications, fuel, boots and rain jackets.
Two weeks ago, POPOF after buying all necessaries rented one truck which made two trips to transport the necessaries to the park headquarters at Tshivanga. Ms Hunt, the newcomer in the large family contributed with money which allowed us to rent the two trips done by the truck to transport items from Bukavu to Tshivanga. We were also able to rent some other vehicles for covering such a big day.
It was very nice seeing the immense joy and happiness in the eyes and hearts of the park authorities when seeing the way a local or Congolese NGO highly coming to recourse the governmental institution which is the KBNP. POPOF was escorted by the General of the Congolese Army and the chief park warden from Bukavu to Tshivanga. He was deeply touched when he saw POPOF remitting to him the pump of diesel in order for the KBNP authority to be filling fuel until they reach 1,000 litres for the daily patrols in the park. Him and the KBNP chief warden felt so proud to see the rented truck doing two trips carrying food and others for the rangers use when patrolling. He gave a good speech to rangers to congratulate the partner POPOF for such great assistance. The chief warden said: ”When some people saw me signing the partnerships with POPOF, they were jealous and said it was better to sign only with big International Organisations like WCS, KFW, GIZ. Where are they today during this hard time of financial crisis?” He added, “I remember I happened to free the ecological corridor of this park a long time occupied by rich politician farmers for breeding their cattle. It was with POPOF rations, fuel, medications and fuel again which allowed us to reach the freedom of that sector”. POPOF took the word and said; ”On behalf of POPOF, my family, my partners and myself, I am honoured to see I can stand here between a general of the Congolese army and the KBNP chief warden for assisting the park. The KBNP is my pride, my horse of battle, my victory. I and my family and my descendants shall work for it as far as it shall keep existing.”
I cited the names of all of you to them by citing your Congolese names and they were much more stunned. I added that as long as POPOF is the partner of the KBNP my trusted friends based overseas shall remain the friends of the KBNP.
That day for the foods and equipment from our side to the KBNP brave rangers was so bright.
It was very nice to see how the drone which is used in the park for the first time is from POPOF-Africa 2030 since the park exists in 50 years.
I talked to my family Odette and sons and said ‘’Be happy and be ready forever to serve the KBNP with fidelity”. There’s nothing we can’t we do for the park and for the communities around when we are as one!
One would be hard-pressed to narrow down on a single action that has the ability to solve environmental, sociological, and biological problems more effectively than planting trees.
Providing resources to raise local peoples out of poverty, contributing positively to the climate change crisis by sequestering carbon from the air, and serving as crucial habitats for wildlife such as gorillas in the DRC name only a few ways trees help to restore balance and life to our planet.
At the heart of its tree planting efforts, 8 Billion Trees prioritizes removing carbon from the air and rebuilding animal habitats.
For these reasons, 8 Billion Trees—and its founder Jon Chambers—is beyond proud to stand behind the efforts of The Pole Pole Foundation with the shared mission of caring for animals.
In the Amazon Rainforest, where 8 Billion Trees carries out large-scale tree planting and conservation operations to restore areas devastated by reckless and irresponsible deforestation, they also operate a wildlife sanctuary that cares for and rehabilitates hurt and displaced animals with the goal of returning them to their natural habitats as quickly as possible.
8 Billion Trees Founder Jon Chambers checks on fresh produce being prepared as part of the wildlife sanctuary’s dietary program for animals being rehabilitated.
While The Pole Pole Foundation and 8 Billion Trees operate in different areas of the globe, they both share the same vision for our planet: a healthy and biodiverse ecosystem teeming with wildlife.