George Kakule

If you ask George Kayisavira Kakule what he does at GRACE he will tell you in a soft voice with a big smile, “I am the driver”. Navigating North Kivu’s notoriously brutal roads is for sure an important job, and George is the undisputed expert at it. He is able to maneuver around massive potholes and jack-knifed trucks on mountain roads almost effortlessly. It is because of George that GRACE staff and supplies arrive safely where they need to be.

axe

George uses a pick ax to dig out the GRACE truck. GRACE Manager Jackson Mbeke assists.

But George’s skill set goes far beyond just driving. As Facility Coordinator, George oversees all construction and maintenance at GRACE as well as the on-site security team. On any given workday, George can be seen busily building or fixing something. The generator, fencing, solar panels or vehicles…something always seems to be broken in the harsh Kasugho climate! But George enjoys this challenging work and especially the variety of problems he needs to solve. He says, “I like that every day is different.”

George and fence

George (center) reviews plans for the forest enclosure with the project engineer, Kamate Kasumba Oze (left), and GRACE Manager Jackson Mbeke (right).

Born in Butembo, the largest city near GRACE, George was his parents’ fourth son. He has 5 brothers and 6 sisters. He and is wife Chantal are the proud parents of 2-year-old daughter Lucienne (“Lucy”) and hope to have a sibling for Lucy in 2014. George attended secondary school in Butembo where he concentrated in mechanical and electrical trades. After receiving his diploma, he then completed an internship where he learned more skills such as welding. In 2002, George was hired as a driver for traders in the area then for the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB) in Goma. He drove cars, minibuses, and boda-bodas (motorcycles) for these jobs. Working for TCCB eventually brought him back to his hometown of Butembo and then to Kasugho and GRACE.

George has been with GRACE since it was founded in 2008 and is a valued member of the team. His skills and leadership are essential to running GRACE’s day-to-day operations. George is really proud to be part of this organization, which he thinks teaches teamwork and professional skills as well as gorilla conservation.  He says, “At GRACE, we have been trained to be responsible. I think that if others followed the way we work here, more of Congo would be successful.”

George welding

George welds together pieces to a corridor that will connect the forest enclosure to the existing outdoor gorilla area.

Corridor door2

George and the team who helped build a new gorilla-proof door for the fence project.