Gorillas, Villages and the Ugandan Spirit

We are an organization founded to create awareness of the plight of Batwa Conservation Refugees; the endangered Mountain Gorillas and their threatened habitat; and to help financially support the significant work already in progress by the Kellerman Foundation and the Batwa Development Program.

The Batwa Pygmies are conservation refugees and live in the extreme southwestern region of Uganda. As a group, they were evicted from their native forest once it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994. Although they had lived in the forest for thousands of years the Ugandan government falsely perceived them to be a threat to the endangered Mountain Gorillas which also called the forest home.

Evicted and given no compensation, this population was thrust into a money economy of which they were completely unfamiliar and unprepared to navigate; an education and vocational way of life completely foreign to them; a culture with different values and traditions; a day to day lifestyle outside their means…no property, no land, no housing. They have been at the bottom of the economic ladder currently earning barely $25.00 a year. Their access to medical care and educational opportunities have been minimal.

Dr. Kellermann and the Kellermann Foundation have taken up their plight and provided the funding necessary to assist with constructing homes; creating educational opportunities; and establishing medical facilities for these present day conservation refugees.

Gorillas, Villages and the Ugandan Spirit has forged a partnership and relationship with Dr. Kellermann and his foundation with the intent to further assist in the development of access to housing, education, and medical care. In addition, our current project is to simply document the endangered traditions and culture of the Batwa Pygmies. The history of their former way of life is at risk of being lost as the inevitable passing of the last Batwa Pygmy forest dweller is not too far off in the distance. We are planning a return trip to Uganda in 2012 to interview, film and document the Batwa way of life. This will be our gift to the Batwa — so that generations to come will know of their heritage, ancestry and humble beginnings.

This will obviously be an expensive undertaking and are seeking donations in any amount to help cover the cost of the two month stay and subsequent work to be done upon our return. Donations can be make to Gorillas, Villages and the Ugandan Spirit by sending a check or money order to GVUS c/o Jeff Markley, 1134 Nelson Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

Your financially and moral support is much appreciated. One person — One dollar — One at a time — Does make a difference.