When the Batwa were displaced from their native forest in 1992, they were given no land or compensation. They strove to survive in an unfamiliar region with unfamiliar resources.
The Batwa lived for millennia in the area that is now the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They were skilled hunters and gatherers who utilized every part of the forest, including bark for their clothing and trees for protective shelter.
When they were displaced from the forest, they existed on the fringes of society, sometimes starving, with no land of their own, no history of formal education, limited job skills, and few options for improving their lives.
The Kellermanns, the Anglican Diocese of Kinkiizi, and your gifts through the Kellermann Foundation have helped relocate the Batwa into 11 settlements in the Bwindi region. The Batwa Development Program (BDP) was formed to address the root causes of extreme poverty and poor health. Batwa representatives from each settlement help guide the work.
With the help of Kellermann Foundation supporters, the BDP works toward these ongoing goals and programs:
Education – About 250 Batwa children attend 15 different schools in the region.
Income production – A variety of programs help the Batwa become self-sufficient. They include:
- Batwa Experience – Batwa schoolchildren and visiting tourists can take a forest excursion to learn Batwa traditions, providing the Batwa with income generation and cultural preservation.
- Batwa Women’s Center and adult education – Classes teach life skills, literacy, woodworking, health and nutrition, and craft-making, such as jewelry, baskets, soap, and sewing.
- Agriculture – Gardens at their homes and schools provide for improved nutrition and income sources. Some Batwa are also learning to raise pigs, goats, and rabbits.
Spiritual outreach – Christian leaders, Ugandan university groups, and long-term missionaries help the Batwa apply faith to daily issues with culturally relevant Christian messages and counseling.
Home building – Ongoing projects help Batwa move out of their temporary leaf huts into robust mud-wall homes with metal roofs.