The African Conservation Fund's (ACF) and SAPPI Papers, Ideas That Matter Grant, provided the funds for Deborah Ross to produce a book, Olcani, illustrated by the children of ll Polei Primary School describing the traditional use of plants for medicine in their Massai community of the Mukogodo region. The use of plants as medicines is of great value to the Massai people.
The children of Il Polei Primary School made the paintings to share their elders' knowledge. Ms. Ross also photographed the children, locale and plants along with their words. The books were distributed to children and teachers in the region's primary schools. The project empowers these young artists with pride and investment in the biodiversity manifested in their back yards and to hopefully forestall further environmental degradation.
The Mukogodo region of Kenya has undergone both rapid ecological and cultural degradation. A severe drought in 2009 wiped out 90% of the pastoralist community's wealth - their cattle and goats. Much of the region's indigenous knowledge is at risk of being lost as these children face a more difficult and different world than their parents knew. The need for conservation, conservation education, and local empowerment in Kenya is extreme. The Mukogodo region is a vital focus point of the African Conservation Fund for preservation.
African Conservation Fund and SAPPI Papers
UNICEF and Lemur Conservation Foundation
The Ako Series, Madagascar Lemur Adventures, is a six book series written by primitologist, Dr. Alison Jolly, and illustrated by Deborah Ross targeting children 4 to 12 years old. Each book features a different lemur - from the tiny mouse lemur, to the engaging ring tail - in a captivating story that imaginatively teaches children about natural science, conservation, and the island of Madagascar. UNICEF funded distribution of books in Madagascar.
These are not textbooks... the stories are meant to be exciting, beautiful, funny, and sometimes scary!
Through original art and storytelling the books teach children about the lemurs and Madagascar, one of the most rare and endangered animals and ecosystems in the world. The books are produced and distributed by the Lemur Conservation Foundation, with Nature’s Path Food’s EnviroKidz Partnership in Global Conservation.
'This enchanting and ravishingly illustrated little books are about some of the world's most beautiful and endangered creatures and cannot fail to captivate its readers, young and old.' Dr. Ian Tattersall.
Forests in Madagascar are being destroyed by illegal logging. This book was developed by Deborah Ross to recognize the destruction and salvage the remaining animals and trees. The children of this region have watercolored the plants and animals. Funding is being applied to have the book published so others throughout the world may be made aware of the issues. Photographs by Ms. Ross.
Doris Duke Foundation
The grant funded travel to Guinea to unite Message de Espoir (Band of musicians with disabilities) and tour the African country to raise an understanding of disabilities.
Numerous grants were given by the Puffin Foudation from "Madagascar: A Village Paints its World", the book, OLCANI, research in Kenya and Madagascar, and photography equipment including a camera lens. All of the photos on this page including the Guinea village below were taken by Deborah Ross.
Funded travel and workshops in Madagascar.
Also paid for the printing of the English Only Lemur Childrens' Books
Nature’s Path Food’s EnviroKidz
Ebola Prevention in Guinea
Guinea banks, offices, fancy shops and hotels all have hand washing stations with mandatory use before entering their premises. These simple items placed outside are filled with chlorine water which kills the Ebola virus. thus insuring a ring of protection around the community. But the poor do not have access to these. So Ms. Ross and her husband built handwashing stations. Deborah held painting classes so the residents could create signs that educated the community about these stations. The circle of elders below discussed the stations and residents became involved. As of yet there's no incidence of Ebola in this particular Guinea Village.
ACC - African Conservation Centre
Continued painting workshops in Kenya. Here Deborah teaches the children of the Oloika Primary School in South Rift, Kenya. Upcoming grant will fund production of another children's conservation book.