Gorilla Doctors is pleased to share that our Rwanda Field Veterinarian, Dr. Gaspard Nzayisenga, has been named the Silent Hero of the Month by Dr. Hayley Adams’ Silent Heroes Foundation! Not only does Dr. Gaspard work tirelessly to monitor the health of the habituated mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, he has also stepped up to help young children in his community by establishing a preschool for disadvantaged Rwandan children. His work with Gorilla Doctors has coincided with the creation of his preschool, and over the last two years, he has nurtured both with steadfast passion.

Gorilla Doctors Rwanda Field Vet Dr. Gaspard in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

Dr. Gaspard was nominated by Dr. Emily Denstedt, a veterinarian enrolled in the Masters of Public Health program at the University of Guelph, who conducted an internship with Gorilla Doctors in the summer of 2017. During her time in Musanze, she conducted an extensive training for local nurses on how to diagnose and treat common eye ailments. She also spent time with our Rwanda field veterinarians and became friends with Dr. Gaspard, accompanying him to his school. 

“Gaspard fits the description of a ‘silent hero’ perfectly for two reasons” says Dr. Emily Denstedt. “He has dedicated his career to conservation, tirelessly working on the front lines to protect mountain gorillas and other important wildlife in Rwanda. And he has also quietly dedicated much of his own time outside of work to opening a school for the children in his neighbourhood who are most in need. Gaspard finishes a long day in the field and goes immediately to his school, where 36 children now have the opportunity to receive an education.”

Archangels preschool children in Rwanda.

“I established the preschool in my neighborhood about two years ago for the kids from the least advantaged families in the community” says Dr. Gaspard. “I believe that this is the best was of giving back to our communities but also one of the best investments that anybody can make in order to break the cycle of poverty among families in Rwanda or elsewhere.”

The preschool, called Archangels, has a team of three teachers and a housekeeper and cares for 36 young children. Most of the children are from families who otherwise would not be able to afford to send their child to school. “We adjusted our fees to be affordable even for the most disadvantaged families while keeping the quality of child care high” says Dr. Gaspard. “For some families, however,  only a free program is an option, and we aim to provide for those children through donations.”

Dr. Gaspard with some of the young children who attend his Archangels Preschool.

“The majority of the families live in poverty in this area of Rwanda and cannot afford the growing price of a quality education” said Dr. Gaspard. “As a result, a large number of kids don’t attend the early childhood education centers, yet preschool child care lays the foundation for a successful start at school and later in life. I believe that if given equal opportunities at an early age, kids would perform equally well in school and achieve their full potential as adults later in life. By transforming children’s lives now, I believe that we can change the course of their future and ours, giving them the gift of brighter futures and hence breaking the cycle of poverty for generations to come.”

Congratulations, Dr. Gaspard! The Gorilla Doctors team is so very proud of you and all of your hard work to help both gorillas and Rwanda’s youngest school children!