News flash from Tanzania

I must admit that this picture gave me goose bumps! It was sent by Dr Andrew R. Marshall who took one of our pedal powered field cinemas to Tanzania to support the Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP).

This project is a conservation initiative in Tanzania working since 2007 to protect tropical forests. The British-funded project is operated by an all-Tanzanian team that carries out environmental education, village capacity building, conservation lobbying and monitoring.

UFP currently teaches environmental education to a number of primary schools in a rural area near to the threatened forest of Magombera. The children learn about the importance of forests and why it is important to conserve them. The project also assists with school fees for disabled and orphaned secondary school children.

This new invention consists of a generator powered by an ordinary bicycle; connected to a DVD player and allowed the team to reach people who have never have received any form of environmental education. The mobile cinema was seen by to 10,000 people in four villages that lie on the edge of the Magombera forest. The films showed included educational information on forests and habitat conservation, as well as wildlife documentaries.

UFP Project Co-ordinator Fadhili Njilima said, “The villagers were astounded by this magical invention, and were extremely grateful. Even television is a special thing in these far-flung villages, but a cinema powered by a bike... just imagine!”

Environmental education films will now be shown on the pedal-powered cinema once per month in each of the four target villages around Magombera forest. Without the need for batteries or electricity, it is hoped that the pedal-powered cinema can be used for several years without interruption, so now the only limit is the number of films available. UFP are keen to hear of any sources of educational films on forests or wildlife in the Swahili language so that there are enough to continue the event.

This really does make it all worthwhile!

Photo and blog text courtesy of Andrew R. Marchall.