WCDP was formally incorporated in 2003, but its origins go back 10 years earlier as its founder, John Ahrens, was finishing up his two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda. Having spent his time working in the Natural Resources Management sector of the country program, John trained forest rangers to evaluate the biological diversity of the forest reserves, demonstrating that they are more than just sources of timber, but were thriving communities of wildlife, much of which could also be utilized as natural resources for the surrounding communities and for the country of Uganda as a whole.
John was initially based at the Ngogo Wildlife Preserve in what was then the Kibale Forest Reserve. In 1993 Kibale Forest was re-gazetted into the Kibale Forest National Park, granting full protective status to all of the wildlife and natural resources it contained. From a wildlife conservation perspective this can be viewed as a huge success. But from the perspective of the villagers living in the periphery of the newly formed park, this was a significant loss. Not only could they no longer sustainably collect wood, honey and other resources from the forest, they could not even defend their farms and homes from the wildlife coming out of the park to raid their crops. It was at this point that John recognized that humans, too, deserve conservation and protection, as they are also part of this ecosystem that had survived harmoniously for thousands of years.
Why 'World Community'?
The idea behind 'World Community' is that of visualizing the entire world as a single community, working together for the collective good of all its citizens, human and non-human alike. While the focus of WCDP is on villages and rural communities, we recognize humanity and all life as belonging to a single global ecosystem, with every part interconnected and dependent on all the others. We envision networks of individuals and community-based organizations working collaboratively to ensure that every living creature is able to thrive on this planet. At the same time we recognize that many communities are not currently thriving, so we seek to support their development, recognizing that a rising tide raises all ships.
There is an African Proverb stating that it takes a village to raise a child. We recognize that in today's world, sometimes it takes more than a village. WCDP seeks to promote and support the concept of a World Community raising our children in healthy, prosperous communities filled with opportunities for growth and enjoyment.