Congratulations to Denis Agaba on being selected as Primate Education Network’s (PEN) May Educator of the Month! Special thanks to Madelaine Westwood for her nomination and blog submission.
Denis Agaba transforms lives wherever he goes. Charismatic, intelligent, and passionate, Denis manages to enthral and enthuse the people who come to learn about great apes, the many issues they face, and how to protect them for future generations. Denis is the implementer of the Great Apes Film Initiative (GAFI) Pedal Powered Cinema Project in Uganda, screening a range of conservation films to many different groups of people. Over the past two years, Denis has reached tens of thousands of schoolchildren, parents, organic farmers, park rangers, army officers, local politicians, and other decision makers through his enthusiasm and deep knowledge of great ape behaviour.
The Pedal Powered Cinema uses a simple dynamo to convert the energy created when pedaling into power that runs a projector and sound system. This field version permits up to a thousand people to view and hear the film being screened.
Many people can impart information, but Denis goes beyond that to inspire his audiences to take action in their own locality to create sustainable solutions that will leave a lasting legacy.
Denis brings together a number of important NGOs in his region. In addition to his role as educator and implementer for GAFI, he is a key ambassador for the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda and a valuable partner for the Gorilla Organisation. This gifted educator is responsible for taking schoolchildren (including disabled children) to the forest for the first time, creating a network of Young Ambassadors for Great Apes, encouraging senior army officers to have conservation screenings in barracks, and introducing environmental education to many schools for the first time.
In 2011, Denis’ work was recognised by Hon. Mary Ndete, who represented the Commissioner for the Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports as a guest of honour during the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance Education Workshop. The Ministry requested more screenings by him and the Pedal Powered Cinema to be implemented throughout the country. It is a call to action that Denis is working on.
Denis says, “There are many people that live near primate habitats, but they have not seen them with their own eyes. I have found that the people who live farther away from primate habitats are less informed about the importance of primates and do not generally promote their conservation. Primate Education Network is helping primate educators like myself who are working with communities around the world to connect, learn from each other’s experiences, and share tested and proven solutions to various local problems.”
This blog post was written by Madelaine Westwood, a producer of wildlife and conservation films. She is the Owner of Nutshell Productions and the Director of Great Apes Film Initiative (GAFI). GAFI has screened films via television, road shows, river boats, and pedal power cinema to over 300 million people in 15 countries, resulting in hundreds of local initiatives to solve local problems.