by Andrew Nyberg, MD MPH
Kellermann Foundation Board Member
|Dr. Andrew Nyberg greets a family in Bwindi|
If you are like me, reading through my Facebook feed has become very painful of late. Right now there is so much frustration, anger, fear and pain in our country. These days, we see very few smiles, and feel precious little joy. It’s easy to become discouraged; it feels like there is so little we can do.
But one thing you can do is support the Batwa people.
The Batwa are a wonderful tribe of pygmies in rural Uganda. Traditionally, they lived in the rain forest and were primitive hunters and gatherers. All that changed when their access to the rain forest was taken away to make way for gorilla trekking tourism.
Through the Kellermann Foundation, an organization started by Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann, the lives of the Batwa are beginning to look bright once more. The Kellermann Foundation created the Batwa Development Program, a program which has purchased land for the Batwa to live on and farm, built schools and sponsored the education of Batwa children, built homes for Batwa families, sponsored water and waste projects and set aside land in the rain forest where the Batwa can pass along their culture and traditions to future generations of Batwa.
The Kellermann Foundation has also built the Bwindi Community Hospital, which has been recognized as one of the top hospitals in the country. There, doctors from America and Europe work alongside Ugandan doctors in a spirit of learning and cooperation.
The hospital has had some astounding successes, including lowering the HIV/AIDS rate in the community below 5%, and coordinating the treatment of HIV.AIDS patients through a specialized HIV/AIDS clinic. The hospital has also launched both pediatric and maternity wards as well as a women’s dormitory. More than 1,200 babies are delivered at the hospital annually. Families receive medical care and learn how to grow and cook nutritious foods in a community garden and test kitchen. Pregnant women stay in the women’s dorm toward the end of their pregnancy to be near the care they require. Through a voucher program, women pay the equivalent of 1 US dollar for prenatal care and delivery. This opportunity is particularly valuable in rural Uganda, where many women attempt to deliver babies at home. If their delivery fails, they are left struggling to find a hospital that can perform an emergency cesarean section. The complications can be significant, such as death of the mother, death of the baby, or vesicovaginal fistula, a breech in the tissues between the bladder and vagina, which causes continuous leaking of urine into the vagina.
The new Uganda Nursing School at Bwindi trains nurses to improve healthcare throughout Uganda. The first class of nurses graduated in February of 2017, and the first Batwa nursing student is starting his nursing education!
The Batwa, the Kellermann Foundation and the Bwindi Community Hospital need your help to survive. We would love for you to visit the hospital and see the work they do. Please contact the Kellermann Foundation if you would like information about visiting Bwindi. However, if travelling to Uganda is not in your near future plans, please consider supporting the Kellermann Foundation financially.
$225 can treat a malnourished child.
$750 can provide primary education, materials, uniforms and transportation for a Batwa child for a year.
$1,250 per year can support a Batwa child through secondary school.
$1,400 can build a house for a Batwa family.
$1,500 per year can provide tuition, housing and materials for a nursing student.
The Kellermann Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity with a Gold-level endorsement by GuideStar and a “Top-rated” approval by Greatnonprofits.org. You can support the Kellermann foundation by direct donation and through Amazon Smile.
In these tumultuous times, you can change the lives of the Batwa. And that’s something worth smiling about!
Andrew Nyberg, MD MPH
Board Member, Kellermann Foundation