Director Steve Shurter visited the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Epulu earlier this month. These are his thoughts about the trip.
|The view as you fly into Epulu|
|Steve arriving in Epulu|
Imagine living somewhere where there is no electricity, no running water, no mail delivery, no cell phones, and no hospitals, banks, grocery stores, or pharmacies nearby? Rosmarie Ruf is the Swiss woman who runs the Okapi Conservation Project based in Epulu and has lived there for over twenty years. Some people might think this would be a romantic lifestyle but I challenge anyone who lives in the US or Europe to consider the implications and realities the “simplistic lifestyle” implies. Rosie thrives on the environment in Epulu and the Okapi Conservation Project has developed a bit of infrastructure to enable her to be comfortable and safe and to accomplish the work at hand. An added plus is the community of Congolese workers and Mbuti pygmies who look to Rosie almost as a parent – her extended Epulu family!
|Where Steve stayed while in Epulu|
Time in Epulu takes on specific clarity, probably due to the lack of phone, television or car traffic distractions, your daily interactions and experiences seem clearer. Hornbills and parrots flying through giant trees that scrape the sky are reminders that you are somewhere special, but even conversations with friends or coworkers seem clearer, more poignant. Life is strikingly fragile in the DR Congo and the daily pieces are therefore so much more vibrant. I wish more people could have the chance to experience that simplicity and purpose.
|Arabia Falls on the Ituri River|
This visit was pretty short, owing to the objectives of the film project, and the travel in reverse was no shorter. But the many plane rides back gave me an incredible bird’s eye view of Africa, from the seemingly infinite Ituri Forest, to the shores of Lake Victoria, past the craggy peaks of Mt. Kenya, then north along the Nile River through Ethiopia and Sudan and over the sands dunes of Egypt to the Mediterranean. A reflection of Africa with not a cloud in the sky that day . . .
We will be working with Rob and the Green Living Project team over the next months to develop the Okapi Conservation Project film, for release sometime this summer. I’m really hopeful that this film enables us to share the Okapi Conservation Project with our friends and supporters and to portray a small piece of life in Epulu and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Stay tuned!