Redemption Song Foundation gave out mattresses to the Kalehe Batwa families after each one improved their homes with mud. The brand was “Sleep King” and our manager Charity told me that a couple of them joked that they would be sleeping like kings and queens!
This is no small thing. We last bought them mattresses a few years ago and living in mud homes, they get ruined faster than in a home you might be used to. We also handed out a bedsheet for each family getting a mattress. Mattresses are too expensive for them to afford at this time -- especially right now during the pandemic when all tourism has ceased (the country's borders are still sealed to visitors). They typically live on less than a dollar a day, and that's when they had dancing income. Now, they are getting money by selling handiwork, such as wooden mingling sticks, woven mats, and also firewood.
For the past few weeks, we have delivered food, soap and other items to the Kalehe Batwa. Other items we have provided and/or will soon provide include hand towels, hoes, storage buckets, plastic jerry cans, cups, bowls, spoons, jelly (like lotion for their skin), and toothbrushes and toothpaste. The Kalehe Batwa's sole source of income comes from tourism, and that’s temporarily gone—we aren’t sure for how long.
The opening sequence of the Lion King movie is beautiful and inspiring and reminded me of the gorgeous African savanna. Our organization is based just a couple of hours from the savanna where we take some of the Batwa children. RSF lies closer to the Montane rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a gorgeous ancient forest that until this century was home to the indigenous Batwa. They were not responsible for the depletion of the mountain gorilla’s habitat, or the gorillas themselves, which was caused by other tribes engaging in agriculture and deforesting the area. Yet the Batwa have suffered more than any other group because of tourism and because of the park.
Developing Africa in a way that does not harm the environment is incredibly important in the era of climate change. And solar power helps bring light to the Batwa's homes at night so they do not have to scrounge around looking for things with 500 shilling flashlights that break and barely work. The kids can do homework and read books. THIS IS HUGE!
Even if you grew up poor in America, you almost certainly had electricity — you had lights. With no running water, no electricity, no traditional education, and no access to their traditional source of food in the forest, the Batwa are facing extreme poverty the likes of which most people in the U.S. can't really imagine.
Can you guess the major barriers to quality education in developing nations like Uganda? Some include lack of good teachers, lack of quality training materials, lack of funding and even hunger. A whopping 171 million kids around the world are stunted by hunger by age 5, which affects brain development - and hence the ability to learn.
We have found that Batwa children struggle academically because of several reasons: hunger, not having educated parents at home to help with learning, too large of class sizes without dedicated, skilled teachers, and no electricity at home to study with. These kids really need smart, fun, dedicated teachers, good nutrition and loving care.
The Batwa young'uns from Kalehe village, where we mainly work, have struggled at the local school we previously had them at, with scores like 4 or 11 out of 100 - in preschool!
We decided to tackle the problem head on, opening our own preschool - something we have prayed about for mo...
Happy 3-year Anniversary, RSF. Your donations have made all this possible. Thank you!
All the Kalehe village Batwa school-age kids now attend school, sponsored by RSF donors. For just $45/mo or $25/mo (2 levels) you can sponsor a child!
We got CLEAN WATER in Kalehe: 2 tap stands, 1 at each end of the village, piped via gravity from a freshwater spring in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. What an act of environmental justice, since this comes from their ancestral forest homeland.
We've held a weekly Educational Soup Kitchen for kids, removing parasitic jiggers; giving vitamins and medicine; providing healthy food; and making learning fun!
We've bought hundreds of baskets at a fair trade price from women, selling them in the US on our online shop and in stores! We buy shakers and carved gorillas and seed necklaces from men. We sell the baskets at WC Trading Co at the Woodlands Church in Houston, Texas, New Seasons gro...
Houston, Texas. Before heading to Uganda, I owned a house here, and I am living here now. I graduated from high school here, raised my kids here, and have lived here for longer than anywhere else. So the effects of Hurricane Harvey and the after-storm are near to my heart.
The past week has seen the worst flooding Houston has ever seen. The freeway overpass closest to where I now live was completely underwater! The San Jacinto River reached the highest level in history, overflowing so dramatically that much of the NE suburb of Kingwood was drenched in several feet of water. My apartment did not flood, but dozens of my friends have had their homes flooded, the local high school flooded, the library flooded. Local folks used their own boats to help police & emergency services rescue families from their flooding homes. And this is just a tiny corner of Houston. Throughout the city, this was repeated, from Kingwood to the city center to Dickinson. It's traum...
Last month, we installed the clean water system you helped fund, and we now have sponsors for all 16 of the Kalehe Batwa kids. It feels great, but now our bank account is depleted... Operating on a shoestring budget is not easy! We didn't raise sponsorship fees this year (but we really need to), can you help us in this pinch by donating $20, $50 or $100 to our "Free Our Minds" Education Fund(That's from a line from Bob Marley's Redemption Song... "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, only ourselves can free our minds").
We need to raise $6000 in a short time, and the funds will go towards:
* Expanding the Educational Soup Kitchen to twice weekly. This helps the younger kids who attend the local school get better nutrition plus supplemental education. These kids are not performing as well as the boarders, so I really want to help give them a boost.
* Supplementing our sponsorship program by allowing parents to visit their kids each term, having...