When Lionel Venturini saw a documentary in Netflix about the Virunga National Park rangers, and the daily problem they face when on duty, he said he had to do something. He had also been reading about Virunga Community Programs and how it’s helping change perceptions in terms of tourism, conservation and community development in the Virunga massif.
Born in 29th June 1984 in Rosario, Argentina, a densely populated city 300km from Buenos Aries, Venturini says he spent most of his childhood in Mar del Plata.
He has worked as a lifeguard since 2016 and in 2017 he says he had the opportunity to further develop his skill as a lifeguard in Madrid, Spain.
Ventirini came back to Mar del Plata after the stint in Madrid and received a diploma as a professional medium deep-river diver. However, he was not to stay in Argentina for so long. “The local social crisis forced me to return to Spain to work as life guard and again this time to work and study and settle down for couple of years,” he says.
He adds that several months before seeing the Virunga documentary he had considered tavelling back to Madrid by motorcycle since travel costs were high. But after seeing the documentary he decided to travel by a bicycle and help promote Virunga National Parks and Virunga Community Programs along the way.
He says he was motivated to do this after watching the documentary and the wide contrast between selfish humans and those of rangers doing their best to protect the Virunga National Park and organizations like the Virunga Community Programs have initiated programs to promote conservation and community development in the Virunga massif.
The Virunga National Park has recently been hit by security problems that forced the authorities to close it for tourism activities till next year. However, Virunga Community Programs believe it’s selfless actions like the one undertaken by Venturini that will help to expose such problems and the world is going to look for solutions how we can save Virunga in the long run.
“The documentary completely moved me. It even gave the idea to make t-shirts and flyers with the Virunga programs icon in order to promote it to the people I met along the journey and ask for donations as well,” he says.
He says he has invested money and effort because he is absolutely sure it’s worth it. He says he would also ask readers to suggest to him more ideas to collect money for this noble cause.
He says that because he will start working on June 2019, and since he has enough time to travel until the date, he is planning to support both Virunga National Parks and Virunga Community Programs by cycling from Madrid to Salamanca, and back to Madrid on 1 October 2018.
The journey will cover 4000 kilometers and he says it’s going to take approximately five months. Afterwards, he intends to travel by bike towards a euro flight zone route.
“Furthermore I would do the same in Italy in 2019 in France in 2020; in Germany in 2021 and so on .I would like to share the Virunga message around the world and at different school and institutions”. He adds that he hopes the journey will also help him learn English so that he can be able to communicate with everybody.
“Since first saw the documentary I just visualized myself there taking pictures, meeting the locals and learning about their activities in order to tell what they do while travelling,” he adds.
He says despite not having enough money at present he would one day wish to visit the parks and this would prepare him better to spread the Virunga message.
“Virunga Community Programs would like to take this opportunity to thank Venturini and we wish him well in his adventure. We hope that his mission that he spontaneously embarked on after seeing what is happening in the Virungas is going to open the eye of the world. We would also wish like-minded people like Venturini to come up and support conservation efforts not only in the Virungas but everywhere there’s a challenge.”
The onus to protect our environment should be a responsibility of everyone, and we believe that we should leave this world a better place we found it. This includes taking conscientious efforts to make it happen. Venturini is doing it. You also can do it, too.