Monthly Archives: October 2016

Fair Trade USA Committee Uniform Donation

Last week, members of the Wildlife Works’ eco factory Fair Trade Committee had the pleasure of making a trip to two local schools within our project area. As part of the eco factory’s Fair Trade USA certification, each of our Fair Trade USA certified clients contribute a ‘premium’. This is around 5-10% of the overall production cost which is paid directly to our factory workers.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-38-20-pmStudents at Itinyi Primary School holding up their new school uniforms

Our Fair Trade Committee then decides how this money is spent. This time, they allocated a portion of their premium to the community for worthy causes. (Read here stories about how our employees have been using their Fair Trade money for projects such as education for their children and home improvement.) In instances where money is given to the community, education is a top priority.

Itinyi and Marasi primary schools are two local schools that were targeted by the Fair Trade Committee as particularly at risk and in need of assistance. Between the two schools, the committee donated over 100 school uniforms to vulnerable children ages 6-14.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-37-35-pmThe head master and Alfred, the head of the free trade committee, distribute school uniforms at Itinyi Primary School

The Fair Trade Committee visited both schools to hand over the uniforms and meet the children. During their visit, each member of the Fair Trade Committee spoke directly to the students and their parents about how they were able to donate these items.

Through explaining about Wildlife Works, including how the eco factory is responsible for job creation and describing the importance of fair trade production, the committee showed these families the benefits of community organization and mobilization.

By protecting the environment and community through making clothes within a fair trade framework, the committee now has the resources to donate these uniforms where the school would otherwise have gone without.

In instances like these, due to local customs, it is important to assure the families that these uniforms were given strictly as gifts and that nothing was expected in return.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-37-24-pmAlfred and the rest of the committee distribute uniforms at Marasi primary school.

Both school visits were tremendously happy occasions. It was wonderful to see the excitement on the students’ faces when they received their new school uniforms. For many of them, it had been a long time since they received a new uniform and nearly every student had some kind of rip or tear in their clothes.

Wildlife Works strives constantly to work within the community to build strong and active families that can become vehicles for change. By bringing together the parents and students when donating these uniforms, the Wildlife Works Fair Trade Committee further promoted the idea that education should be valued and that parents must be a part of the process of enabling each child to reach their full potential.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-37-49-pmStudents at Mirasi primary school try on their new school uniforms.

It is these weekly community events, which often go undocumented and without discussion, that make Wildlife Works a strong social driver here in the Kasigau Corridor. Within a community that has decided to place environmental conservation at the forefront of their lives and careers, we see repercussions that run deep within the community. How wonderful to witness everyone benefiting, even the students at Itinyi and Marasi primary schools. Huge congratulations and thanks to our Fair Trade USA certified customers (such as Threads 4 Thought!) for committing to fair trade and our employees for delivering such a great and necessary donation!

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-38-06-pmParents were present at both schools to witness the donation of the uniforms and share in the excitement with their kids

Empowering young girls through GLOW training

Wildlife Works is committed to supporting community projects as we feel these can be the most important tools to developing self-sufficient and self-governing communities. One of our main focuses is on education, especially for women and girls.

This past weekend, a sexual health and sanitation session for young girls at Kiteghe Primary School within our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area in southeastern Kenya was funded through Wildlife Works. This program is called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), and is run by Monica, a local Kenyan lady who volunteers her Saturdays to run this training session in local primary and secondary schools across Taita Taveta County.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-56-41-amMonica writes essential goals for girls attending the training

50 girls over the age of 12 attended the event. Each girl was selected to serve as a peer educator to pass along the teachings to two others in the school. The session was held on a Saturday morning and the girls showed up eager to learn. The day started with a review of issues that were important to know, from child pornography and prostitution to female genital mutilation and incest. The girls scribbled feverously in their notebooks as soon as they were given a new concept and asked questions and voiced their concerns.

Oohs and ahhs and quick inhales of breath could be heard throughout as the girls learned terms that were often harsh and scary. A common theme was the concept that girls should avoid relations with boys so as to fully focus on their studies. Currently at Kiteghe Primary School, five girls from the school are pregnant. Once they have their children, it is unlikely these girls will resume normal studies.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-56-50-am50 girls above the age of 12 attended the training

After the morning session, two of the seminar leaders, Monica and Happiness, began a discussion of sanitation in which they showed the girls how to properly clean themselves. Amid some giggles and laughter, the instructors demonstrated how to insert a sanitary pad into a pair of underwear. This demonstration was very important in expressing to the girls the normality of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and aimed to reduce the stigma associated with it.

In Africa, the biggest cause of absenteeism from school for girls is due to girls being on their period. Seminars like these are important in educating young women and giving them the tools they need to attend school all month long.

One of the main events of the day was a lesson on how to make your own reusable sanitary pad by sewing together pieces of towel, cut outs from plastic bags and cotton scraps (provided from our eco-factory, thereby reducing waste and becoming something useful!). Using a needle and thread, each girl sewed her own pad, which for many was her first one. The design is one used by Wildlife Works and other organizations that has proven to be successful in serving as a pad that can be cleaned and reused.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-56-58-amOne girl completes her handmade, reusable pad

After creating their own sanitary pad, the girls were given a gift of two pairs of underwear that had been donated through Wildlife Works to be distributed at the seminar. It was great to be able to show these young girls how to manage their period through creating their very own sanitary pads using commonly found materials.

This program is one of several here in the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area that works to enable girls to take charge of their own lives and education. Next year, Monica and the other instructors are hoping to expand the program to boys.

These sessions are largely funded by donations to Wildlife Works. Please get in touch with our Conservation Office Manager, Cara Braund at cara@wildlifeworks.com if you are interested in contributing to a similar girls or boys seminar.

Moses – Head of Data Collection for our rangers

Moses Lorewa is Head of Data Collection as part of the 85 Wildlife Works rangers that patrol our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in southeastern Kenya.

He is the eldest child in a pastoral family of seven children, from central Kenya. Upon finishing school in 2004, Moses worked in construction for a few years to make ends meet but knew this wasn’t his calling. He first came to the Tsavo ecosystem in 2007 to work as a scout for Southern Cross Eco Safaris who ran Gala Rock Camp, an old lodge within the Wildlife Works project area. Although Moses didn’t have any experience of working in the bush, he had grown up surrounded by livestock so he had the mind for working with animals.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-32-39-pmMeet Moses!

Through his job at Gala, Moses gained extensive knowledge of the land and wildlife within the Wildlife Works project area, and even worked alongside some of our rangers, as he used to be part of the anti-poaching patrolling team. A few years later, in 2010, Wildlife Works was expanding our ranger team – Moses jumped at the opportunity.

Today, Moses is Head of Data Collection for the ranger team. Within each of our seven ranger camps across the project area, one ranger is responsible for collecting data every day on the wildlife, the land and any incidents within their designated zone. It is Moses job to collect and collate all the data at the end of every month and pass along the information to the Wildlife Works Biodiversity Team. This data includes information such as elephants, lions or birds seen, poaching snares found, or incidences of deforestation for charcoal production.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-33-08-pmHere is Moses on the job, helping out at a community event

Moses says one of his favorite parts of his job is working together with the community, although this is also one of the most challenging aspects. He says that getting to the level of understanding about the importance of animals and trees and how to benefit from them takes a long time. An essential element of being a Wildlife Works ranger is to create awareness within local communities, but not create animosity. Moses comments that, “it’s challenging to create awareness and also sympathize about why people need to poach or produce charcoal. These people might be my neighbors and could go behind my back.”

It is thanks to the hard work of our rangers like Moses that Wildlife Works is able to protect the forests and wildlife of our project area.

Moses was one of the rangers present on the fateful date that our team was attacked by armed poachers. When we sat down to speak with him about his role at Wildlife Works, Moses recounted his memory of the incident which he had actually just written about in his personal diary.

Nearly five years ago, poachers opened fire on our unarmed conservation rangers who were patrolling Rucking Wildlife Sanctuary killing one and critically injuring another.

Moses recalls, “it was a time when poaching was really high, and Somalis were killing lots of elephants here. My team was out in the bush and we came across two footprints in the dirt, and tracked them from morning till 4 pm. We were really tired so stopped to take a break.”

Moses said things happened very quickly. “We heard gunshots. I found myself on the ground. Are we shot, I thought? I was really confused.” The Wildlife Works ranger team had tracked the poachers so well that they’d come across them very unexpectedly and they’d opened fire.

Luckily, our team had Kenya Wildlife Service rangers with them at the time – they are armed and authorised to shoot in situations like this – who fired at the poachers to scare them away. 

Two of our men were shot that day; Moses was the third man in line, so feels like he was saved. He said this experience, very early on in his time at Wildlife Works, made him emotionally invested in his job here. “Working with armed poachers needs a lot of courage.”

Since this incident, Wildlife Works has reviewed and revised how our rangers track poachers, ensuring that the safety of our men and women is put first. It it due to their heroic commitment that we are able to keep the wildlife safe from the threats of poaching. 

Read more about this incident here. 

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.