African International Christian Ministry (AICM) in partnership with Pilot Light Foundation have donated an assortment of business items to the marginalized Batwa communities with the aim of uplifting them from poverty.
The donation aims at transforming vulnerable and marginalized communities by addressing causes of poverty, vulnerability and inability by these communities to address their development needs.
The donated items will provide alternative sources of income through skills development like Tailoring, Baking (Mandazi), Crafts, Masonry and wood work.
The items include Frying pans, Filter Spoons, Buckets, charcoal stoves, Packing bags Saucepans, Displaying tables, Rollers, Knives, Basins, Jerry cans Benches, spoons/forks, cups Baking Flour, Detergents, cooking Oil, Margarine worth Shs 1.5millions.
Other Batwa families from Rwamahano, Bufundi sub county Rubanda district received sewing machines to use in tailoring. The sewing machine was accompanied with sewing needles, measuring tape, rack and stand, piece of cloth, Ekitengye, Pattern Paper and Lubricants, worth Shs 1million shillings.
According to the Executive Director of AICM Mr Precious Arinda, the beneficiaries from the Batwa communities of Ryamihanda and Rwamahano both in Rubanda District were first trained to be able to learn how to use the donations.
The Batwa in Uganda (today) experience systematic and pervasive discrimination from the government and other sectors of society, and their rights as indigenous peoples are neither recognized nor respected.
A few Batwa own very little agricultural land, and the least productive, in designated locations in hard-to-reach hilly terrain near the forest.
Before the declaration of the Echuya as a central government forest reserve, the forest was heavily encroached upon. Up to now, some activities such as wild hunting, collection of honey, mushrooms, water, bamboo for basket making, building poles, making of bee hives and fire wood are being carried out by both Batwa and non-Batwa dominant ethnic communities.
Batwa, illegally today hunt in the forest due to lack of alternative sources of proteins. The forest is also of cultural importance to the Batwa, who offer religious sacrifices to their gods. Echuya Batwa were never involved nor considered for consultation and compensation when the decision-making process to exclude them from the forest was being taken.
As a result, most Batwa became landless with extreme poverty and have been reduced to a life of destitution, living on non-Batwa’s land as squatters.
Batwa have been forced to resort to begging, providing cheap manual labor, prostitution and stealing for survival. They can be referred to as marginalized minority people, internally displaced persons or environmental refugees.
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