Willy Mekombo

Program manager of the TL2 Project.

He was born in a small village in the territory of Wamba, 1982, in the Province of Haut Uele. He is the youngest of eight children by the first of four wives. His father, a coffee farmer, had 19 children and died when Willy was only five. Willy lived in the village until he was 8 years old, then moved to Kisangani where his older brother, Jean-Remy, helped him get an education.

Coming upstream with chief Obenge
Willy, on right, travelling upstream with the chief (woman on left) of the Balolo groupement.

Willy studied Economics at the Université Protestante au Congo. He started to work in conservation, right after his studies, as a volunteer: he spent 5 months working for SOS Nature in Beni, assisting Jean-Remy who once worked with John and Terese — decades ago. So when the TL2 Project was looking for someone to help manage the Kinshasa office, they contacted Jean-Remy who suggested Willy.

He started as administrative and financial assistant in 2008. When the project got an accountant in Kinshasa, Willy could start focusing more efficiently on the different aspects of the project from the work in the offices, missions in the field, PALL’s challenges, coverage by the outreach teams, and the projects of researchers. He has to know who goes where and when and the problems they are likely to confront.

What Willy really likes in his work is the possibility to broaden his capacities. He tries to harmonize the work of many people. He sees the project’s activity in a detailed way, and he tries to connect the different components. He enjoys that after working on small details, he has to rise to a different level to understand the main purpose. How do the pieces fit into what we need to achieve. He likes this complexity, and being able to look at it in its entirety.

At Bangaliwa
Willy at Bangaliwa

Willy sees two main challenges. First is management of the many different people that work for us and in collaboration with us. The quality of our work depends on our human resources and our ability to treat everyone fairly. He needs to adapt the project’s specific needs to the national labor law; this is a real challenge, given that this is the Congo, and the legislation is often not in the ultimate interest of the workers or of the employers.

A second challenge is to build an organization from scratch (TL2 started in 2007) that is truly adapted to the Congolese environment and able to evolve with time as the challenges change.

WILLY at Katopa with Arcus copy
Willy in Katopa camp.

If he has the chance, he wants to continue studying and earn a degree in management. Willy realizes that the TL2 project and the Lukuru Foundation in DR Congo must be competitive on a national and international scale.

He got married in Kinshasa, and raises his 3 children here. Willy likes when they watch nature documentaries on the TV. He is happy to spend a lot of time with them, as the majority of his work is done in Kinshasa, but he also spends time in TL2’s offices in Kindu and Kisangani as well.