Serving God's People in Africa since 1868

Help Educate the Batwa Children of Uganda

We live in historical times. We see it on television as well as on the internet. We read about it in newspapers, magazines and on our electronic devices. Every day, in nations around the world, decisions are being made that affect the survival of entire societies and cultures. And decades from now, those who come after us will look back on these years and ask: What did you do to make life better for those who were suffering? What did you do to make the world a better place?


“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”

Frank A. Clark, politician 1860-1936

We live in historical times. We see it on television as well as on the internet. We read about it in newspapers, magazines and on our electronic devices. Every day, in nations around the world, decisions are being made that affect the survival of entire societies and cultures. And decades from now, those who come after us will look back on these years and ask: What did you do to make life better for those who were suffering? What did you do to make the world a better place?

I am not referring to any of the political discussions here in the U.S. The people, society, and culture I am writing to you about are the Batwa people of Uganda in East Africa — a people, society and culture who are on the verge of extinction. Please let me explain.

The Batwa are an endangered group of people who have lived for generations in the Forest Reserve of southwestern Uganda. They are believed to have originally migrated from the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in search of wild animals to hunt. Within recent years, though, authorities have prevented the Batwa from living in Ugandan forests . . . forcing the Batwa to remain in villages instead. Unfortunately, this drastic change in lifestyle is proving nearly impossible for many of the Batwa to survive.

“The Batwa people need our help,”Sr. Mary Angelica wrote to me recently. Sr. Mary Angelica works as a missionary among the Batwa in Uganda. “In the past, they survived on fruit from the forest, as well as hunting animals, making handcrafts which they sold for their livelihood. Now all of that is gone. They do not have the skills or education to survive in towns.

“The literacy rate among Batwa people is extremely low,”Sr. Mary Angelica explains. “That is because the people did not see a need for those skills when they lived in the forest. But now that they cannot return to their former way of life, they need to be able to read and write in order to earn a living.

“We have already begun working with some of the adults and their children. More than 77 people have already gained an elementary-level education! The parents want to learn how to read and write — so they can begin to teach their children. The parents are worried what will happen to their children after they are gone.

“We are also teaching the parents skills for making handcrafts that can be sold for food and other essentials. Right now, the only way the Batwa have of earning money is to go into the forest and collect firewood which they then sell. Our hope is that you can help provide what they need while they are in this fragile period.” When I read Sr. Mary Angelica’s letter I knew that we had to do something to help the Batwa people. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen the devastation of cultures (such as with Native Americans). I am praying that we can help prevent that from happening to the Batwa.

There are several things you could do to help. For example, in your own community, you could contact your local school board to make sure that there are educational programs that both recognize and promote the value of cultures different from our own. You could also volunteer to share with young school children your own experience of other cultures (especially if your ancestors were immigrants).

I am also hoping that you will help us raise at least $27,300 for Sr. Mary Angelica’s work among the Batwa people as well as for educational, pastoral and humanitarian programs in our other missions throughout East Africa. Whatever gift you send, please know that your generosity is what makes our work possible. Your financial support helps save the lives of those in need!

 

Your Missionary Friend,

Denis P. Pringle
Director of Development