The Batwa forest pygmy tribe were evicted from their ancestral forest in just 1991 when Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks were established in SW Uganda, Africa. They were given no land or money in compensation and have struggled ever since. While churches and charities have helped, they still face an uphill battle to gain some dignity and a better way of life.
I came to Uganda in Jan 2014 as a journalist (wendeenicole.com ) and was so moved by their plight that I sold my house in the U.S. and moved there to start my nonprofit charity/ministry Redemption Song Foundation (redemptionsongfoundation.org — a 501c3 U.S. nonprofit).
The Kalehe Batwa were the "forgotten" village that no one felt could be helped. They drank too much, they said. They were lazy, they said. They won't work together, they said. They also face discrimination and abuse at the hands of locals, at times. Women get raped because some locals believe raping a Batwa (Mutwa) woman cures HIV (or backache). HIV rates here are higher than average, there is prostitution, single motherhood, child and spousal abuse, kids dropping from school by 1st or 3rd grade. We've begun to turn their world around and need your help to keep going.
I'm raising funds for our "Sticks to Bricks" Permanent Homes Project. First, the Batwa lived in "huts" like the one below
Then we built mud/clay homes that used a kind of "sticks" to create semi-permanency:
NOW, we want to build permanent brick homes for the stable families of Kalehe village. They deserve it!
Each home will get an "eco-stove" that reduces their need for firewood and they will also get goats, which will help with their protein needs and also provide manure that can fertilize the crops we recently planted — coffee as well as vegetables, beans, and more. They already have solar panels from two years' past Power to the People campaign, and these will be transferred over to the new homes.
We want to build three brick homes and maybe four if funds allow. Since the pandemic started, with tourism evaporated, they have stayed home and engaged in agriculture. We set up hygiene stations and have been providing weekly food relief. We hired an ag expert to help them grow vegetables (enough to sell!), and bought equipment like hoes, machetes, pick-axes, tarps (for drying crops), mats, and more. Extra funds above what we need for homes will go to agricultural education, staff funding, supplies, and food relief. We are working to build livelihood projects so they can sell vegetables and other items to make enough money to support themselves independently. That's the goal!
We need your help!
I believe our work is inspired by the calling of Jesus Christ on my life and to serve and while I'm now living back in the U.S. we have an amazing Ugandan staff (including one Batwa young man) and we have seen such great changes in cooperation, physical health, hygiene and how they care for their children and one another!
The Kalehe Batwa have become my family. Let's improve lives and spread God's love.
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me." -Matthew 25:35-36
- thomas adams
- Catherine Wright