Glenn Raynor: a challenging new task in Africa.
Gazing out over the vastness of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Lake Kivu I can almost imagine the South Pacific, the distant green hills could be one of the larger Melanesian islands. Appearances aside, the Pacific is some 13,000+ km away from Equatorial Africa!
Despite the distance I invariably find myself thinking of the Pacific and my tenure, first as Programme Manager and then as Executive Director of PPP, spanning 2004 to 2009. The vital lessons in NGO leadership and working with a diverse community of stakeholders across multiple countries in politically charged contexts continue to resonate in my new role as Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), www.janegoodall.org that has brought me to Goma by this lovely lake and surrounding volcanoes.
Stunning natural beauty and some of the largest remaining tracts of equatorial rainforest aside, this is a deeply troubled place. Generations of bitter armed conflict, mass movements of refugees and internally displace peoples (IDPs), illegal mining, logging and poaching of rare species continue to take a heavy toll on the biodiversity as well as the lives and livelihoods of our traditional forest dwelling community partners.
Past PPP Executive Director Glenn Raynor transformation, demobilisation and reintegration assistance for rebel combatants combined with capacity building for law enforcement is essential to better control poaching and the traffic in endangered species. It's a daunting challenge but JGI is a well-respected organisation and community partners have been eager to welcome us as a catalyst for positive change.
One of my first major challenges as ED of PPP was losing funding for the Indigenous Peoples Abroad Programme. IPAP was integral to PPP's identity and many assumed this loss spelled the end of PPP. Fortunately a critical mass of dedicated supporters disagreed, seeing value in our continued existence. As difficult as this period was, I'm now grateful for the challenges and the lessons in organisational renewal that they instilled. I look back with immense gratitude to the network of supporters, in particular the United and Anglican church partners, the Webster Foundation, Development and Peace, Rights and Democracy and other solidarity partners whose support and encouragement enabled me to navigate the organisation through some extremely tough times. I'm now applying lessons learned then to this new set of challenges.
The institute takes a holistic and multi-pillared approach to the preservation of critically endangered eastern lowland (Grauer's) gorillas and the eastern chimpanzees and the habitats on which they depend. To achieve these ambitious conservation objectives, JGI supports a range of health, education and livelihood programmes in communities bordering critical great apes habitat, often located in conflict areas. Thus the incorporation of conflict
In closing I join friends and supporters across the Pacific, Canada and around the world in congratulating a remarkable little organisation that in the words of our President Emeritus, Dr. Jim Boutilier, is like the bumblebee, flying despite itself! Here's to another 40 years of solidarity and service!