"My family’s lives are in danger because I'm fighting to protect our forests and wildlife, and we desperately need your help. For several months now, my family and I have been facing enormous difficulties that have been the most stressful time in our lives, and we are out of options."
The following has been written by Dalley-Divin and The Biodiversity Group has translated it from French and are supporting him as a conservation partner of ours for the last four years.
Being the founder of a charity organization, the Congo Biotropical Institute, which protects the Congo rainforest, has put my family in grave danger and we have now been forced out of our home after a second attempt on our lives. We do not get paid for our work with the organization, so we don’t have the money to afford the costs of moving to a safer town. Not only does remaining in Butembo jeopardize our own lives, but I will not be able to continue the important conservation work of our organization that no one else is doing. We sincerely need your help.
Now let me explain how this has all happened...
On the night of May 18, 2022 (~1 a.m.)
Armed bandits attacked my home, breaking down all the doors, ransacking the interior of the house, taking away the money and all the scientific equipment from our nonprofit organization. They fired two bullets in our direction when they discovered we were hiding in the ceiling of the house and they forced us down.
That day, we escaped almost certain death, but they hit my wife in the face with a metal bar and shoved our six-month-old baby to the floor.
After they stole virtually everything my family and the organization had we pleaded for our lives and they thankfully left, after what seemed like an eternity. A day later, these bullets were left on our front porch warning they were not done with us.
On the night of August 29, 2022 (~1 a.m.)
My home was again attacked by armed men. They destroyed the gate of the sheet metal fence that I had put around the plot after the first attack. They also broke two other gates of the house and fired several more bullets at us from a distance.
This time I was sure we would not make it out with our lives. I knew that if they managed to get inside the house, they would finish the job that they warned they would, take everything our friends and family helped us replace, and leave our baby orphaned and traumatized.
In defense, I managed to injure one of them with a sharp iron bar in the stomach, saving ourselves in the process. Luckily this was enough to stop their attack as they rushed their injured accomplice away. We have now vacated the house and are in hiding and will remain in hiding for as long as we can afford, which is only a few short weeks.
Why are we being attacked?
The assaults began after I started bringing the local tribes together to create a large community-protected forest. Our organization focuses on community conservation and youth involvement in hopes of building a new generation committed to nature conservation and the fight against climate change.
There are influential people would rather see us fail at this mission and use that land for livestock, mineral extraction, or some other development purpose for their own gain. If we are eliminated, there will be no one else to stand in the way of this forest being cut down and sold to line the pockets of a handful of people.
This is an Eastern Lowland Gorilla, the second most endangered gorilla subspecies and the one the fewest are working on.
The Congo rainforest is one of the vast forests on planet earth: it should be considered a planetary asset/heritage because we all depend on it. It is unacceptable that any person or group of people would want to hold it hostage as private property and destroy it without regard for the humanity that depends on it.
And no matter how poor the Congolese people are, even the government does not have the right to sell our Congo rainforest. We must prevent such actions which aim to destroy our land.
Personally, I have a child to whom I am obliged to bequeath livable land, and not land that is burning. I beg of you to lend me a hand so that together we can move forward before it’s too late for the Congo and too late for my family.
What can I do ?
I certainly do not want to give up my fight to save the Congo, but I also do not want to lose my life or risk that of my family’s. The police are not able to help us and I see no other option for us than to move from my current city and settle in another so that I can continue my fight while knowing my family is safe.
The only way we can volunteer for our organization and afford to live was from arrangement to not pay rent at the house we were living at. So, while moving into an apartment is our only reasonable option, we simply cannot afford it. I am hopeful that the world will see the value of our work to save the forest and understand that it is only through them that I can continue that work.
I know that in a lifetime, I cannot make $100,000 to build a house that could withstand the attacks that my family and I have suffered. But I have faith that with your contributions, I can manage to raise $6,000 so that I can move my family and what remains of our belongings (furniture etc.) and afford to rent an apartment in another city. I'm sorry for not mentioning the name of the city where I intend to go, but I will not let the thugs wait for me there.