The indigenous Batwa (known as Pygmies) are a neglected minority in the Kalemie region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Exploited and chronically under-educated, Pygmies need access to a school that will accept them. Often dehumanized by their neighbors and deprived access to education, the Pygmies are trapped in poverty. Routinely targeted for their mineral-rich land, the Pygmies in Katanga have experienced sustained violence against them from militia groups.
The church has a real opportunity to show love to this marginalized population. The Diocese of Katanga once established a six-room school for the Pygmy population, but the building was damaged during regional conflict in 2001. Since then, many Pygmy families have not had a viable option for educating their children. The Diocese of Katanga will rehabilitate the former primary school in partnership with the Pygmy community and the local church.
Once complete, the school will provide education in a nurturing Christian environment. Schools fees, in line with DRC government guidelines, will be charged, keeping the school sustainable and motivating parents to keep their children in school. After the primary school lets out for the day, mothers of students and other local women will use the space to attend literacy classes. The holistic nature of this project allows for entire families to benefit both through practical teachings as well as exposure to Christianity.
In Their Own Words
“I and my wife started as a member of Anglican parish in Nyunzu in the group of adults rooted in Jesus. After they explained how we became Christians, we followed Jesus as our Savior. We [were having a difficult time paying school fees for] our children, so the church started a small micro loan project of selling fish from lake Tanganyika and the church provided us [with] management training. I and my wife started going by bicycle to Kalemie and bringing fish to be salted in Nyunzu. At that time, we started with $150 given by the church through the coordinator.… We saw the love of God through that support and now we can earn money – sometimes $350, other times $450 [which] paid school fees for the education of our children. We thank you God.”
This project has been fully funded and we are awaiting the final report.