The Batwa people of Uganda are a marginalised group who have faced discrimination and displacement for centuries. They are traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers, but they have been forced off their ancestral lands to make way for conservation projects and other development initiatives. As a result, many Batwa people are now living in poverty and lack access to basic necessities, including housing.
In recent years, there have been some efforts to improve the housing situation of the Batwa people. The Ugandan Government has built some houses for Batwa families, and there have also been some NGO-led initiatives to provide housing and other assistance. However, these efforts have not been enough to address the widespread housing problems faced by the Batwa people.
The lack of adequate housing is a major challenge for the Batwa people. It makes it difficult for them to find jobs, access education and healthcare. It also contributes to social isolation and exclusion.
Cognisant of this challenge, Karrie Mellor from Bags of Support and Stuart Brittle from Medisort pooled resources to fund the erection of a family house in Sanuriro, within the district.
Supported by dozens of students from the Nkuringo Secondary School and the Batwa family recipients of the house, the October Go Uganda team made short work of completing the wattle and daub construction, which is a composite building method used for making walls and buildings, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material, usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. Wattle and daub have been used for at least 6,000 years and many older examples stand proudly around the village today.
When the hard work was finished, there was time to enjoy the amazing hospitality of the community. We were honoured to be regaled by traditional dance and music while chunks of raw sugarcane were relished, and afterwards there was a colourful and diverse range of artifacts presented for us to buy.
As with so much of our trip, the whole day was utterly memorable and deeply humbling.