Well, I'm about to embark on an adventure to Lambaréné, Gabon! For years, I've wanted to volunteer abroad and work in international development but didn't know where to start. After connecting with Heather Arrowood, the co-founder of Organisation Ecotouristique du Lac Oguémoué (Ecotourism Organization of Lake Oguémoué), I was so inspired by the story and purpose of her organization, I was eager to be a apart of it and help out any way I could.
OELO's mission is centered on conservation and stewardship. In 2010, its first project became an ecotourism site, Tsam Tsam, to create a source of revenue for local residents through protecting biodiversity. Since then, their projects have expanded a great deal. They now organize environmental education programs in local schools, promote sustainable fishing practices, community outreach to reduce bushmeat sales in markets and restaurants, and biodiversity research.
Along with general support for OELO's projects, I will be supporting their environmental education programs and nature clubs in schools, fostering an appreciation in local students for the environment and instilling a sense of responsibility to care for it. Additionally, I'll assist in furthering OELO's current fundraising operations and developing new funding opportunities].] The culture of grass-roots community organizations is not strong in Gabon and the government itself often does not encourage them. Therefore, OELO relies greatly on private sponsors and environmental donors.
Because OELO is such a small grass-roots organization, they're unable to subsidize my airfare, lodging, and everyday expenses. That's where I need your help! Any donation helps me get to Gabon and helps keep me fed :) I'm leaving June 1st and I've signed up to work in Gabon for six months but hope to stay for a full year after evaluating my experience. During that time, I will stay with a local host family and a portion of my fundraising will help to reduce the financial burden placed on the family. Some of my fundraising will also pay for my emergency travel insurance.
This is such an exciting opportunity where I know I can help OELO to grow and in turn, to preserve Lambaréné's ecosystem for future generations.
Check out their website for more info: http://oelogabon.org
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