“I am both proud and humbled to be part of Kwita Izina, because if there is a more powerful statement of our spiritual connection to nature than what Rwanda has done with the mountain gorillas, then I am yet to find it," says Veronica Varekova.
Supermodel and philanthropist Veronica Varekova is among the international personalities invited by the Rwandan Government for Kwita Izina, the baby gorilla naming ceremony. The function will be held in Volcanoes National Park on Friday, September 1, 2017.
Kwita Izina (gorilla naming ceremony) is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born. This will be the 13th gorilla naming ceremony, which has become one of the biggest conservation celebrations in Africa.
Veronica, who is a Global Ambassador and Board Member of the African Wildlife Foundation, said she sees a part of her life and the essence of being a global citizen in Kwita Izina.
Born in the Czech Republic, Veronica studied Psychology at Olomouc University, before enrolling at Parsons School of Fine Art in New York. It was in New York that she began a successful career as a model.
“The mountain gorillas live in three countries — Rwanda, Uganda, DR Congo — and it’s partly that freedom to move that has posed both a risk, but also ensured they have survived," she said. “They are global citizens. And that opportunity to move across border lines, to benefit from the collective gifts of the world is something that I am able to relate to because without it I might not have made the career that I have,” Veronica added.
There are less than 1,000 mountain gorillas alive in the world today, and they are only to be found in the triangle of three countries spanning four national parks — Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park.
Veronica said the present population of mountain gorillas represented a dramatic recovery over the last two decades, especially in Rwanda and Uganda.
In Rwanda’s case, she said, “It’s a country that in 1994 witnessed one of the most horrific events of the 20th century, a genocide in which nearly 800,000 were killed."
“But even at the worst of times, Rwanda saw its recovery as tied to nature, and rebuilt itself at the same time as it rebuilt the population of mountain gorillas," she said.
“I am both proud and humbled to be part of Kwita Izina, because if there is a more powerful statement of our spiritual connection to nature than what Rwanda has done with the mountain gorillas, then I am yet to find it. AWF has been at the forefront investing in the protection and sustenance of gorillas and other fragile species,” Veronica said.
As AWF Global Ambassador and Board Member Veronica aids in efforts to raise awareness and funding to support initiatives for protecting endangered species and conserving their habitats.
She has previously been involved in working on protecting the migratory paths of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and is an advocate of sustainable development on the African continent.
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