The Batwa Development Program (BDP) was established in the Bwindi region in 2008 under the guidance of Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann to help the Batwa help themselves. Since the indigenous Batwa were removed from the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in 1992, they have been one of the poorest people groups in the world.
The BDP’s vision is that the Batwa will emerge from a life of poverty with an improved and sustainable status of life.
Its mission is to empower the Batwa community through education, land and food security, spiritual growth, civic education, and sustainable income generation so they become valued and law abiding members of society.
Program areas include education, healthcare, land acquisition and home-building, and income generation. Special programs for clean water/sanitation and for spiritual outreach are also supported by the BDP.
Education is one of the surest ways to combat extreme poverty. The BDP sponsors hundreds of students in school, at every level from nursery to university. They also provide support for the Batwa Women’s Center income-generation and adult education programs.
Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH), founded by Dr. Scott Kellermann, provides healthcare to the entire Bwindi area. It began in 2001 with Dr. Kellermann treating patients under a ficus tree, and has grown to become a full-service 112-bed hospital, now ranked the best-performing hospital in Uganda. The Batwa and their neighbors are ensured high-quality, low-cost healthcare, and they benefit from regular visits to their communities for health education and local outreach.
Land Acquisition and Home-Building
In the forest, the indigenous hunter-gatherer Batwa had no concept of land ownership and they had no title to land. Over 300 acres of land have been purchased for Batwa communities. The BDP helps teach agricultural techniques, appropriate land management, and responsible ownership.
Once Batwa families have acquired land, the next step is to build a home. The BDP has built more than 120 homes for Batwa families. Recipients fully participate in the construction, along with their community members.
The BDP is empowering the Batwa to become self-sufficient by helping them discover and establish self-sustaining income generation projects, including the Batwa Experience. They also provide training in income-generation skills at the Batwa Women’s Center, two small in-settlement vocational schools, and the Batwa Craft Banda.
For more information about these programs and how you can help, click here.
To visit the BatwaBaskets website, click here.