The Batwa pygmies were moved from their original homeland when the Impenetrable Forest National Park (best known for its mountain gorilla population) was established. They’ve had an awkward time adjusting to their new environment which is just adjacent to the park. We had been invited for a visit and had solar-lighting equipment to deliver.
Twenty-two kilometers outside of Kabale, Uganda, we turned off onto a rough unpaved road for a 76-kilometer (45 mile) drive to one of the entries to the park, Bwindi-Buhoma. We were there because there are several Batwa communities in the general area. We were met in Buhoma by Rev. Canon Enos Komunda, Batwa coordinator for the Anglican Church. He indicated that there are about 900 Batwa around this edge of the park.
To get to one of the Batwa settlements, we drove up a short distance and then walked about a kilometer. A newly constructed primary school could be seen from a distance. We stopped briefly to talk to headmaster and one of his school teachers. We were looking for a possible location for a future swing set and other outdoor playground equipment. Because of the steepness of the terrain, we could only immediately locate one site. We also talked to the school staff about the needs of the school. The Interethnic Health Alliance, a Utah-based NGO, had provided supplies and cash for the installation of solar-powered lights in the school.
From the school, we walked around the small Batwa settlement. Rev. Enos pointed out several of the projects that are being initiated to improve living conditions including: raising rabbits, farming, and future fish ponds. He also mentioned the need for solar-lighting in the small homes.
We eventually stopped at a small two-room Batwa home. There were 3 women elegantly dressed standing outside. They were getting ready to head to church. I asked if we could take a picture and they agreed.
After the photograph we were invited inside. I mentioned that I was from the USA. The table cloth in the room had a map of the world. I tried to point out that I had come a long way to get to Buhoma. I think they understood. It was a very pleasant experience and hopefully, in the future, we can do more to help the Batwa pygmies.