#PAYITFORWARD: A Human Rights Eco-Journey To Virunga National Park

This guest blog is written by Morey Bean, a Consulting Forensic Architect,  for our our 30 day Pay-It-Forward Initiative. We’re featuring small businesses and non-profits nominated by our community throughout the month of December. Learn more about the initiative!
I couldn’t be farther from the Virunga National Park in the DR Congo right now. Here in Boulder Colorado, one of the world’s intellectual and economic power centers of our international economy, I am comfortable and warm despite our zero degree snowy weather. Virunga! I’m sure, right now, is warm and luscious. Virunga is verdant and plentiful. It’s one of the most important places on earth: The world’s second largest rainforest situated in the Congo Basin.

I’ve traveled to East Africa and now I’m anxious to return to the African continent to discover West Africa and the DR Congo.  Not only to find the warmth that I enjoy but much more importantly to be with the people of the Park, who are fighting climate change, combating poaching, and struggling with the rigors of supporting a huge diaspora from war stricken neighboring countries. People there are fighting for the right to be educated and to build communities and schools that are safe and nourishing and prosperous. I am going to West Africa with well intended preconceptions of what I can do to help, be it setting up surveillance monitors that can detect the presence of chain saws cutting into the rainforest, or showing Virunga National Park Rangers how to use drones to help expand their vision of the Park that they protect with their lives. But I go to the Congo primarily as a witness, (Ushahidi means ‘Witness’ in Swahili), to find out myself what my purpose is there. Perhaps, upon my safe return to the U.S., that purpose will be a call to share the abundance that we have here with Virunga.

I am called to Virunga, one scouting trip at a time, to do what I can to make this world a better place. I ask you to join me in body or in spirit for Ushahidi: The Eyes of Virunga, a human rights eco-journey where I hope that together we will discover what our impact can be by personally fighting climate change and helping to bring educational opportunity to the girls and boys of the North Kivu Province. Perhaps to share with teachers the “Butterfly Hug”, a way of helping their students deal with PTSD, and to discover eye-to-eye what the personal motives of the so-called poachers are, perhaps helping them transform their lives from being poachers to becoming protectors of this incredible World Heritage Site.

I’ll be sharing videos, photos, journals and even good old fashioned post cards of my journey, hoping that you too can find a calling to help this beautiful place become safe and protected for all of us.