Construction of Ellen DeGeneres campus commences in Kinigi

The Ellen DeGeneres campus is expected to boost mountain gorilla conservation efforts and promoting Rwanda’s tourism among other benefits.

Scores of conservationists from across the world, government officials as well as Musanze District residents turned up on [Tuesday 12th February] to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus. 

Located in rural area of Kampanga Cell in Kinigi Sector, the Campus is expected to boost mountain gorilla conservation efforts and promoting Rwanda’s tourism among other benefits, according to officials.

Construction of the campus was spearheaded by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in partnership with the Ellen Fund and will cost an estimated $10 million.

Explaining the campus genesis, the Director of Ellen Fund who is also the partner of Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, revealed that it all begun while Ellen, a globally renowned TV personality, was celebrating her 60th birthday whereby she gifted her with the campus.

“This whole thing came about because I thought what on earth do you give the woman who has everything? So I thought the best gift that I could give her was a way to connect her past to her future; I wanted her to look forward to doing something after her talk show was over,” said Portia.

“I remember the story she told me many years ago, she told me that as a little girl growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, she came across the National Geographic with Dian Fossey on the cover, you are seeing that brave American women, a scientist who left a comfortable life to set up a tent in the Rwandan forest to save a species on extinction – was transformative for real, it made her see the world differently,” she added.

Ellen DeGeneres is a renowned American television talk show host and comedian.

The construction of the campus is expected to take two years and will create an estimated 1,500 jobs and $2million will be spent on local labour, according to officials. In addition, an estimated $2.5m will be spent on locally sourced materials.

The campus will be a permanent home to the Dian Fossey Fund which has been operating in Rwanda for more than 50 years through its Karisoke Centre which has premises in Musanze City Centre.

Currently, the Fossey Fund operates its programmes from rented premises which does not have adequate and appropriate space for all its activities and it is located about 30 kilometres from Volcanoes National Park, where the organisation’s work takes place.

However, the new campus will be adjacent to the park and include state-of-the-art laboratories, a computer lab and library, flexible office and meeting space, classrooms for educational programming, a dynamic public exhibit to showcase the legacy of Dian Fossey and guest housing to host visiting researchers.

Read the full article here: The New Times