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CTPH to appear on PBS Frontline World Documentary on Nov 17

Posted on behalf of Lawrence, the Director of CTPH.

gladys in the field

Look out for a documentary prominently featuring Conservation Through Public Health’s work in communities around Bwindi, home to half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. The story will be part of the FRONTLINE broadcast airing at 9pm EST Tuesday, November 17th on PBS stations in the US.

Please note that local times may vary, so viewers should check their local PBS broadcast schedule.   The story will also be available on the web on the evening of November 17th  It’s the first time they’ve paired a FRONTLINE with a FRONTLINE/World – so that should be interesting.

The longer FRONTLINE story is about Neda, the woman who was killed recently during the protests in Iran.

Our FRONTLINE/World story is 12 minutes long, and is called Uganda: Out of the Wild.

The link is also on home page.

This is how the PBS has described this documentary.

Uganda: Out of the Wild
A story from the wilds of Uganda’s “Impenetrable Forest”—home to the world’s largest population of Mountain Gorillas, but also a hotbed for a number of deadly diseases that cross the species barrier from animals to humans.  Here, a new idea in public health called “One Health” is emerging to help combat threats like Ebola, Marburg virus, and TB.  Says wildlife veterinarian William Karesh: “What we learned over the years is that all the same diseases that we were dealing with in the wildlife were the same as what we were dealing with in people living in the surrounding areas, or in their animals. So when we say that there’s human health or livestock health or wildlife health, we just made that up.  There’s only one health.”

Marketing Bwindi Crafts on the Internet


Ashaba Timothy displaying a gorilla mask he made

Alex standing in his handicraft shop

A lex standing in his shop

Youths living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are generally coming up with some self employment through handicrafts shop as away of conserving the park. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is famous for having half of the population of the mountain gorillas in the whole world.

Conservation Through Public Health an NGO that acts as the voice of the poorest people among the poor helped in the launch of Bwindi Community Blog where the views, wishes and developments from the community members are put.

David Matsiko who is a Community Telecentre Officer working with Conservation Through Public Health moved to some of the handicrafts shop.

He was finding out if the CTPH Telecentre really changed lives of youths through internet. Out of 200 people trained since the Telecentre was established in 2005, 90% are youths.

A lot of benefits were realized by the youths after completing the computer training. Among them was that these people realized that CONSERVATION is a major thing that should not be ignored.

Our Community Telecentre Officer interviewed Ashaba Timothy the owner of Sue and Lee Craft shop and Alex Gabiito of Bwindi Porters’ Crafts Shop both youths and they all said that the internet has helped them to get market for their handicraft items. In addition, their shops have grown up because of the internet. Tourists who come to Bwindi leave behind their contacts and later book some crafts through the internet. This has created friendship between Bwindi people and the entire world.

Before the launch of CTPH Telecentre in 2005, people used to travel to Kabale, a bout 150 kilometers from Buhoma in search for the internet. The community is now happy that they have the internet in their community where they don’t even spend money on transport and most people now know how to use the computer for themselves other than some people doing it for them.


On 7th August 2009, a team from Conservation Though Public Health (CTPH) comprising of Stephen Rubanga, David Matsiko, Ngabirano Alex, took the two visitors to Nyamiyaga Secondary School (Jerry Ann Jaccobs and Beth Jaccobs). These two people were coming from High Tech High- a high school in America based on projects. They were explaining how students at high school level learn through projects.

This was a very exciting moment for students in Nyamiyaga School- a school that borders Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a home of half of the population of the existing mountain gorillas in the whole world.

Many communities surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have benefited both indirectly and directly through CTPH. This is one way how Nyamiyaga benefited directly through CTPH.

High Tech High through Jerry Ann Jaccobs and Beth Jaccobs decided to work with Nyamiyaga Sec school, a hard to reach school where some students walk over 12 kilometers to school every day, a school with no laboratory, no library and no single computer on projects.

The students were told to look for projects related to Conservation, Hygiene and Family life.

Two students were selected from Nyamiyaga Sec School to lead others and work together with their teacher. The two students are Niwagaba Laban and Kesiime Judith and their teacher is Twebaze Francis who got his computer training at CTPH Telecentre.

These were to work with David Matsiko from CTPH who will coordinate all these through the internet.

CTPH has helped the Local communities in several ways and one of them is through such interactions. In 2008, CTPH Telecentre in Bwindi helped to have live interactions of pupils from Buhoma Community Primary School and those of USA guided by Tadge O’bren from Monroe Boces and David Matsiko from CTPH where they exchanged their experiences in Conservation, family life, way of living and others.

The value of internet technology and education to remote Bwindi communities

CTPH Telecentre Officer, Diana Neunje with Bwindi tourist using the internet to share her gorilla tracking experience 

 We were pleasantly surprised and greatly encouraged when during filming of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) work last Saturday 12th September 2009, by a PBS Frontline World film crew, Richard Ngabirano whose father, Mr. Bernard Mugabirwe is a local leader and Chairperson Local Council 1 in Buhoma Central Village, came to visit us at our CTPH office in Kampala and gave a great testimony of how he had benefitted from the computer training at the CTPH Telecentre. PBS Frontline World film crew wanted to find out how the CTPH Telecentre had changed the life of Richard and his community, a program started by CTPH Founder and Director of ICT for Development, Lawrence Zikusoka.

Richard said that since the telecentre was set up in June 2005 many members of the Bwindi community can now use the internet. Because of the email communication with potential sponsors, as many as 8 students living around the remote Bwindi Impenetrable Forest have gone to university, including him, at Nkumba University near Kampala doing a Bachelor in Business Administration. To top it all, one of these students, Brain Turindwamukama, who started Bwindi Kindness Club, a youth community based organization, was recently accepted in Scattergood School in USA through support from Linda Greenberg, Founder of 4Uganda Inc.

Richard also said that the community was appreciative that CTPH provided employment for the telecentre graduates, of which the most prominent was David Matsiko, CTPH Community Telecentre Officer, a former teacher of Rugando Primary School and former teacher and Director of Studies at King’s High School, both near Bwindi.

Richard eagerly recollected the time when he was taught by Diana Neunje, CTPH’s first Telecentre Officer, who had graduated from the Makerere University Department of Women and Gender Studies Gender and Technology Outreach Program. Diana who comes from Tororo in eastern Uganda went onto pursue a Masters in Information Technology at Makerere University and was replaced by David Matsiko.

PBS Frontline World asked whether the telecentre had made the communities more positive about conservation. Richard said that the TB program has had a great impact; he is pleased to see community members coming to the CTPH offices in Buhoma for follow up testing while in the Community Based Direct Observation of Treatments (CBDOTS) program. He also felt that people in his community were becoming more hygienic because of the CTPH brochures and posters displayed in the community, which link improved public health to gorilla conservation.

Lawrence Zikusoka asked Richard what he would like to do after graduation. He said that he plans to return to his community after he graduates and aspires to get a well paid job in the local institutions, such as, Uganda Wildlife Authority, NGOs like CTPH or tour operators based in Bwindi.


 We are an organized Bwindi Community group aiming at educating and sensitizing people surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable National Park how to improve primary health care to people and animals near protected areas of Bwindi for conservation. Together with Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), we teach people the values and aspects of conservation. As an example, the community is now aware of the diseases that can be transmitted through the interaction of people and wild animals particularly the gorillas. These diseases include Tuberculosis (TB) and scabies among others. Bwindi community jointly with CTPH trained community members (Volunteers)  sensitize the community to have manageable families and to improve their hygiene. All these are being done in order to create awareness about conservation so as to save the lives of the endangered gorillas so that they do not face extinction. People have learnt to sustain themselves by setting up handicraft shops and other self help projects. These projects keep people especially the youth busy and they fail to get free time of destroying the environment more especially encroaching on our National Park which is a home of the precious mountain gorillas. CTPH has helped market these products on the internet to tourists and the entire world through its Community Telecentre based in Bwindi. In addition, CTPH has helped Bwindi Community pupils of Buhoma Community Primary School interact with pupils from New York State schools in USA over the internet. This has been achieved through live online interactions.  

Also, about 190 community members have been trained on the basics of computer knowledge which has helped them to write to their friends worldwide who include gorilla ecotourists, and also has enabled them to get employment.

 We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with you as we conserve gorillas while improving the livelihoods of our community.

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