Batwa-Pygmies

 

 

Pygmies, which account for 1% of the Rwandan population, have always lived in rainforests: they are traditionally centuries-old hunters and gatherers.
For years they have been forced by the Government to leave their natural habitat and now live in situations of extreme poverty and marginalisation, caused both by the loss of their traditional forest living environments and by racial preconceptions.

In 2008, in order to follow the directives of the central government, the District had to install a few Pigmei-Batwa families in the village of Nyamyumba as well, forcing them to leave their territory.
The community in Nyamyumba reacted: they did not want them. However, they were forced to build roughly and unwillingly "houses" on the outskirts of the village, with compulsory "umuganda" community work.
From that moment on, the pygmies were left to themselves and marginalized: already involved with the projects in progress, our association could not take care of them, except by providing clothes and some sporadic help.

In 2013, towards the end of the implementation of the terraces, a delegation from Pygmei-Batwa came to Mabawa asking for trust and help to improve the difficult living conditions of the community. Since then a first project (in partnership with the Rwandan state) of implementing radical terraces under their homes has started. The first prepared and cultivated land gave a very satisfactory potato crop and fodder was planted on the walls of the terraces.


The lack of radical terraces was only a small part of the problem:

the conditions of total abandonment in which the 16 families (85 people) found themselves left no choice: action had to be taken.
and give them the same opportunities as the"Great Nyamyumba". After a visit to the project, the Margherita Foundation
adopted with a significant gesture and on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, the entire reconstruction of the houses for the 16 families.

 

  • they had no access to water: now they can use the nearest fountain for free and they have cans, basins and soap

  • while waiting for them to achieve autonomy and food security, food is distributed to the most vulnerable families and protein meal for malnourished children

  • the houses, all semi-detached, they were built from scratch. As of June 2015, 8 houses (16 families) are finished and in use.

  • the children have been put in a position to go to school (uniforms, shoes, cleaning, health insurance, etc.) and attend lessons.

 

The Government has finally convinced itself of the need to integrate this minority into the community, but without the involvement of the head of the village and the entire Great Nyamyumba community it is difficult to achieve this.
After an initial resistance today the reactions of the population are fortunately positive.

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New in 2020

The Government has installed three Pygmies families on Kajagali Hill in line with the new houses of "our".

The houses were built in "umuganda" (community work) but are of very poor quality. Work is urgently needed before the rainy season, which is expected to be alarming.

Some pictures

Article in Vogue Italia, March 2015

© Associazione Mabawa, Via del Sole 22, CH - 6943 Vezia, Tel.: +41 91 9673802, info@mabawa.org

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