As a Rwanda Ambassador, I will start this preface by briefly introducing a dear friend and fellow Rwandan at heart. Marc Daniel was born in Butare (Rwanda) soon after his French parents arrived in Africa where they dedicated 23 years of their career to education and health. They worked in Rwanda, Congo and Burundi. His father Dr. Daniel Gutekunst is one of the founding members of the Universté Adventsite de l'Afrique Centrale (Adventist University of Central Africa) in Rwanda, and founded in Burundi the Kivoga Teachers Training College.
At the age of ten (1968), Marc Daniel visited with his childhood friends the Volcanoes National Park; they ran into elephants but never saw gorillas. Marc-Daniel returned to Rwanda (1979-1981) to conduct, under supervision by late Professor Albert Maurice, his fieldwork towards his bachelor's degree in zoology. He then worked in the Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) and the Kahuzi Biega National Park (in the then Zaire). He also directed an award winning documentary film (December 1981) on Rwanda and the mountain gorillas entitled: Au Rwanda, Le Dernier Sanctuaire des Gorilles (In Rwanda the Last Gorilla Sanctuary). Eleven years later he returned to work on HIV/AIDS with the Ministry of Health. In 1993, at the request of the Ministry of Health, he came back to develop and establish a Post War Development & Rehabilitation Program implemented by ADRA Rwanda. On April 11, he left Kigali with the five just orphaned children of Prime Minister Agathe UWILINGIYIMANA. It is sad to note that the late Prime Minister and her husband along with their blue beret Belgian bodyguards were part of the first victims of the genocide on April 7, 1994. A few months later, Marc-Daniel was back to Rwanda working with refugees and displaced populations.
I have had the privilege of knowing Stan Mullins for 6 years. Stan is an artist with humanism and a mission. He was the first renowned American painter to come to Rwanda. In 1993 he captured on his canvas the beauty of its countryside and the people and returned in February-March 1994 to paint more and display his work in Kigali (capital city of Rwanda). The proceeds from the sales of this artwork went to the Post War Development & Rehabilitation Program. I commend him for the great work he did with the students from the Fernbank Elementary School. From the collage of the winning 37 drawings in this book, he skillfully conveyed his love for Rwanda and its endangered mountain gorillas to the children of Fernbank. Now we should have 654 young Rwandan Ambassadors in the State of Georgia and many more throughout America. Thanks to you all who will buy this book for your kids and their friends all over the world.
When I left the VOA (Voice of America) studios on May 19th, 1995 where I had been discussing the role of media during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Marc-Daniel and Stan shared with me their vision of MAJII during the opening of an art display in Atlanta of Stan's paintings on Rwanda; I was glad they would both combine their talents and wealth of experiences and share them with children. Children are never too young to learn important life principles such as the protection of wildlife but also reverence for life. Today's children will soon be forging new tomorrows for mankind and continue to protect endangered species such as the mountain gorillas. While this past century the world witnessed the worst wars and genocides including the one in Rwanda of 1994, the children at the beginning of this third Millenium may be our best hope for peace and lasting prosperity.
In closing, I encourage all the readers of this book to pledge their contribution to making our global village-planet a better world where children and adults can live in peace and contribute to the conservation of unique ecosystems and wildlife.
New York, January 3, 2000