Solange Uwera is a young conservationist and fresh graduated in botany and conservation at National University of Rwanda. After graduation she went to Madagascar for three month to volunteer with the World Wildlife Fund in WWF Explore Program. We took time with her to know more about her volunteer experiences in Madagascar.
RBM: What is your career?
Solange: I am a young conservation biologist and botanist
RBMG: What encouraged you to choose conservation?
Solange: I grew up in country of thousand hills, with beautiful nature around me. I found it amazing and became very interested in nature, which inspired me do biology in high school. At the University I was oriented the faculty of Agronomy but shifted back in biology where I became increasingly concerned about biodiversity conservation and did botany and conservation as my specific area of interest.
RBMG: What kind of experiences in volunteerism did you pursue as conservation biologist?
Solange: I have been a volunteer in Madagascar for three months in WWF Explore Program.
RBMG: What are the benefits of volunteering in conservation?
Solange: Volunteering in conservation is the opportunity to sacrifice your time and resources for what you stand for as a person who cares about the environment, it’s a chance to give your contribution for saving the planet. Volunteering in conservation get you to know so many things you couldn’t learn in your in class. It’s practical experience, which is quietly complimenting what you have read in books and syllabuses. It’s another qualification that we need before starting a job career.
RBMG: What makes a good conservation volunteer?
Solange: Good volunteer is one who is hard working, patient, easy going and flexible. Having teamwork sprit is very important too.
RBMG: What volunteering abroad looks like?
Solange: It’s an incredible experience not only in career development but also socially. Firstly, wildlife is different and you want to see everything. I also found activities very interesting and innovative, I realized that conservation is done in many different ways, which maybe also different from your home country and that is the good thing you get to know from abroad. Secondary I found myself in a completely different environment as my home country with different new people, language and culture but with amazing teammates, it feels more comfortable and you learn many things from each other.
RBMG: What problem do you see in volunteer program in conservation sector in this country?
Solange: In Rwanda, rarely environmental, conservation organizations and public institutions provide volunteership and professional internship opportunities. This is an obstacle for fresh graduates in conservation who are eager to start up their conservation careers and to dedicate their time in conservation of biodiversity. These opportunities should be integrated in institutions’ action plans.
RBMG: Is there some advice do you have for young people like you?
Solange: My fellow young people especially those who are graduating, don’t start by thinking about nice and well paying jobs, non paying positions such as volunteering is a fresh start to your career, you can invest in it if possible as you did for your studies. It’s a bridge which connect us to the world, it’s an opportunity don’t miss it!