Gaëlle Didone

Gaëlle Dinone is native to Lopé, in the Ogooué-Ivindo province of central Gabon. She is a trained environmental education teacher and works with villages and primary schools in Lopé National Park. She also is the President of a village association, Dia-Eniayi, which specializes in the fabrication of products made from raffia. "All of my activities revolve around the National Park and the promotion of conservation for the benefit of local communities. The park was created in 2002, and we see it as a means to create economic activity in Lopé.”

In 2005, Gaëlle initiated the competition of the Miss Environment, held annually at the Lopé Eco‑Museum. The competition is open to all primary school girls in the District of Mokeko and celebrates the diverse cultures and ethnic groups that make up Lopé national park. “A lot of our children ignore the force of our cultural traditions. Miss Environment strives to spark interest in our culture before it disappears.”

Gaëlle learned how to use raffia to make decorative and utilitarian products through the environmental education program in which she teaches. Dia-Eniayi makes belts, baskets, coasters, wallets, brief cases, purses, and special command items. “Tourism offers a new market for us. Lopé has lots to see for wildlife, and most tourists want to learn more about our culture. Dia-Eniayi makes an effort to give tourists a richer experience when they visit Lopé.”