Today marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944. Without the success of the Normandy landings, there might never have been VE day. On D-Day, and throughout WWII, there were many unsung heroes to whom we owe so much.
As Mahatma Gandhi said so eloquently, “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
Today, there are many unsung heroes fighting a very different battle across the world. We take a moment, and I hope you will join me, in celebrating their work.
“The only world I knew for the first seven years of my life, was one on which humans lived so successfully with wildlife in a protected area setting: a beauty that I now strive to recreate in my adult life.”
Caleb is campaigning to conserve the Togo slippery frog, known locally as the whistling frog due to its whistle-like calls which can be heard at night. He won a Whitley Fund for Nature award earlier this year.
“My father was a park warden….I lost him when I was seven….my father had big plans for wildlife conservation in Ghana but unfortunately, he has ceased to exist in the line of his duty…he became extinct…when I think of species extinction, I think of my father. I think of losing a dear loved one with no possibility of ever having him back. And this is why halting species extinction has been one of my life’s passions.” You can watch Caleb’s inspiring full speech here.
Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
Sharing 98 per cent of our DNA, mountain gorillas seem almost human: they sense emotions, form relationships and, as Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has observed first-hand, they contract our diseases too.
In 1996, investigations led her to conclude that dirty clothing used for scarecrows in fields raided by gorillas was responsible for an outbreak of scabies. Seven years later, she set up NGO Conservation Through Public Health.
“I realised we cannot protect gorillas without improving the health of people who share their fragile habitat,” she says.
Her work involves educating communities about hygiene, family planning and wildlife. And she recently launched Gorilla Conservation Coffee, providing a fair price for farmers cultivating beans on the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
In 1981, the mountain gorilla population had dwindled to an all-time low of 242 individuals; last year’s census revealed 1,000 – and Kalema-Zikusoka has undoubtedly played a role in that revival. She is short-listed for the 2019 Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa.
Sheroe’s Hangout is a little café that has made a big difference for empowering victims of gender-based violence.
The café is located in the Indian city of Agra, just blocks from the Taj Mahal – and it’s run entirely by female acid attack survivors with the aim to remove stigma while offering opportunities for financial independence. The café gives these women a way back into mainstream society and, perhaps more importantly, a livelihood.
The café aims to foster confidence in women who have survived the devastating attacks. It serves food, but also sells crafts and artwork by its employees, and has a library and gathering space for performances.
Pictures of the women’s faces cover the walls, as do their handprints.
Justin Wateridge – Managing Director