All listened quietly: five ambassadors, an army general, the Congolese Minister of the Environment, a top visiting official from Washington DC…. The testimonies were read. Seven gave their lives in the service of Congo’s parks. Five were wounded, but still work for nature conservation in Congo. And four, over the past year, have grasped the conservation challenge and pushed their parks to greater safety. We all listened.
It is the sixth Abraham Conservation Ceremony in Congo. Now, seven years after the end of war, there is still no calm for the parks where outlaw bands seek gold, ivory, bushmeat or just hide from justice. The widows of guards killed by an outlaw band in the okapi reserve told their horrific stories. Their husbands burned, dismembered…
Two guards shot in the forest while attacking that same band are healed and now back in uniform to secure the Okapi Reserve.
Chief Elenge from Kahuzi Biega solemnly declared that after years of opposition to Kahuzi Biega National Park, he and his people are ready to collaborate for a peaceful building of the park. Chief accepts his reward from the German Ambassador.
A last commemoration was made of the horrific abduction and rape of 24 women and girls by the criminal band that attacked the Okapi Reserve in June 2012. Some have escaped, others are still in captivity. At the time of abduction two were only 12 years old, one was 13 years old and four were fourteen years old. One of the women and the husband of a mother still in captivity stood to represent all the women and thank Nancy and other donors who have come together with a fund to ease the girls back into school and the women into their homes.
More about Congo’s conservation hero’s 2013 can be read in the brochure:
Brochure Abraham 2013