When Lionel Venturini watched a documentary about Virunga National Park rangers on Netflix, the daily problems they faced compelled him to do something.
He had also been reading about Virunga Community Programmes and how it’s helping change perceptions in terms of tourism, conservation and community development in the Virunga massif.
Born on June 29, 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 had the opportunity to further develop his skills as a lifeguard in Madrid , Spain.
Ventirini returned to Mar del Plata after receiving 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 a lifeguard and this time to work and study and settle down for couple of years,” he says.
He adds that months before watching 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 bicycle and help promote Virunga National Park and Virunga Community Programmes along the way.
Venturini 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 Virunga Community Programs thatbhave initiated programmes to promote conservation and community development in the Virunga massif.
“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 my journey and ask for donations as well,” he says.
Venturini has invested money and effort in this initiative 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 in June 2019, and since he has enough time to travel until that date, he is planning to support both Virunga National Park and Virunga Commmunity Programs by cycling from Madrid to Salamanca, and back to Madrid from October 1, 2018.
The journey will cover 4,000 kilometers and it will 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 park and this would prepare him better to spread the Virunga message