We are extremely interested in helping the Batwa people, by empowering them with socio-economic activities to improve their livelihood and engage them actively in conservation efforts.
The Batwa are forest pygmees, and the original inhabitants of Bwindi Impenetrabe forest and other rain forests. While their livelihood depended on the forest, they lived in relative balance with the forest and shared the forest with the wildlife. They would never kill an animal unnecessarily. If they wanted, they could have eradicated the mountain gorillas centuries ago, but fortunately they never did that, which we are grateful for.
When the forest was transformed into a national park in 1991, the Batwa people were evicted and have been forced to live the edge of society, marginalized, struggling to survive, to feed their children, and to maintain their culture.
Even today, the indigenous Batwa are still a marginalized and undermined group at Bwindi. They are honestly proven as the most vulnerable and poorest members of the community, with no personal sources of income for survival and that would help them have an improved living standard. This is all because they are still uneducated, that means they can’t find jobs to help them earn. Survival has been from entertainment for visitors but this is not nowadays as smooth as it was before the covid situation. Their physical appearance is also a hinderance to them as well; short height, small in size and most of them not muscular, they can’t compete against the taller regular people for jobs that require hard physical labor.
There are already a number of reliable grassroots organizations that work with the Batwa people, by giving them a sustainable livelihood that also leads to conservation of nature and wildlife. This includes vocational training and agriculture. and programs to get them more involved with the tourism activities. But these organizations struggle to find funds to run the programs. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we work with these partner organizations and local leaders and provide a way for donors to support these activities. Here are some of the ways you can help:
- Batwa Rock & Cave Community Organization. This organization was founded in 2013 by Ashaba Timothy, which is helping Batwa families, including approximately 50 children. They are currently raising funds to construct much-needed semi-permanent huts for families whose huts have been falling apart. They also support some small-scale farming projects (including pigs and goats)
- Support the education of Batwa children via our Batwa Education program.
- Support housing for Batwa who live further away from the park via our Batwa Housing program and make a donation towards that program via our donation webpage.
We will continue to post updates here.
Below is a recent news story by PBS that highlights the situation of the Batwa people in a different area than where we operate, but that gives a good general understanding of their dire situation:
All pictures in this album below are credited to Ian Markham (follow him on instagram at @ianwildhope, or @wildhopecollective). They were taken on his recent visit to this program in September 2021. Click on a picture to see a larger version.
Below are pictures provided by Mushamba, Ashaba Timothy and other partners; Click on each picture to see an enlarged version.