Reaching out to Bambuti pygmies in DR CONGO
PIPES International reaches out to the Bambuti pygmies in Eastern DR Congo
PIPES International is a Christian nonprofit mission agency that reaches out to the indigenous communities in East Africa in Word and deed. The organization lifts up marginalized people in East Africa who live in remote areas with no other help. We are committed in giving hope to indigenous people groups and developing sustainable communities. Our current focus is the Bambuti pygmies in Eastern Congo.
The Bambuti people in Congo forest described as the smallest people on earth are the indigenous and ancient settlers in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) formerly known as Zaire. Scattered in different parts of the forests in Congo, their population cannot be ascertained since there has never been a demographic censure on this people group. This group has only known the forest as mother and father, the provider for as long as they have lived hunting for meat and gathering fruits and herbs. In the recent past, the government of DR Congo declared forests as national parks forcing the Bambuti pygmies to leave the forests without providing any alternative resettlement. Since then survival has been a daily battle for the Bambuti pygmies against the backdrop of diseases, militia wars, rape and insecurity witnessed in this vast and mineral rich country which has been hit by recurring cycles of violence. The pygmy condition is truly atrocious. This has caused households to break up, families to scatter, more deaths due to exposure to cold, lack of food and medication. These hunters and gatherers are now detached with their only known resources like meat, fruit, honey and herbs which they easily got in the forests.
Bambuti children who would be otherwise in school run about in tattered clothes hassling for something to eat or clothes to put on.
PIPES International is committed to fighting poverty by improving lives of Bambuti communities through offering educational opportunities, mentorship and entrepreneurship and spiritual growth.
Despite the gloomy outlook in the Congo Bambuti slums in Congo, we believe that offering opportunities and hope is an effective way to engage the endangered families and help them come out of the vicious abject poverty cycle.
PIPES International is compelled by God’s love to extend hope to communities that are faced by intense challenges of extreme poverty in the heart of Africa. We work with indigenous, marginalized and low income people groups in Africa to help provides opportunity and hope through education, health awareness, resettlement programs, commerce (small businesses), discipleship & mentorship programs and food and supplies relief efforts. The aim is to alleviate poverty by empowering communities and initiating sustainable social-economic developments.
With your support we reach out to Bambuti families who after their forced eviction from the forest have lost everything and we help them rebuild their lives. Our school in Goma has about 300 children who learn and receive regular meals at school. In January 2013, we purchased a land in Idjwi Island where Bambuti families grow their own crops and feed their needy families. We hope to build permanent houses for 40 families in year 2014-2015 and also to build a permanent school at Mugunga in Goma in July 2014.
An inspiring story of the Bambuti pygmies of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): A story of hope in the midst of devastation and hopelessness.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second largest country in Africa with enormous mineral resources that include Gold, Diamond and Coltan. DRC’s extended political and tribal conflicts and a collapse of the country’s infrastructure have resulted in one of the greatest humanitarian crises of modern times. For years, the western world has fought to get a share of the minerals leaving Congo torn apart. Foreign commercial interests have repeatedly manipulated regional tensions in an effort to destabilize the country in order to plunder its vast mineral resources. DRC is now the poorest nation in the world with below $400 GDP per capita. Congo has fallen behind other countries in the world in terms of development. It is now at the bottom of the global economic system- Thanks to the conflict of their minerals.
Eastern Congo has been described as the worst region in the world for a woman to live in. The guardian paper on May 12, 2011 reported that over 1000 women are raped per day in Congo and in April 11, 2013, it reported a soldier who confessed to have raped 53 women. The UN has describe Congo as “the center of rape as a weapon of war” while news commentators have described Congo as the worst place on Earth to be a woman.
When Samuel Mwangi visited Goma town in the eastern Congo in 2003, he saw hopelessness and misery among the Congolese. They looked beaten and were heartbroken. But as it were, he had not yet seen anything until a year later when he came face to face with the Bambuti pygmies in the Congo forests. Samuel had travelled from Nairobi, Kenya to Goma, (DRC) town for a leaders’ conference in the city. Together with a group of 8 other guest speakers, the team spearheaded a mission to bring healing to this war torn country. It was during this mission that Samuel enquired about the people who lived in the forest. Initially his questions were rooted in curiosity of wanting to see for the Bambuti pygmies.
Finally in August 2004, during his third travel to (DRC), he managed to meet face to face with the poorest of the poor. Traveling through the jungle was a nightmare but his determination would not stop him. In a company of two other Kenyans, John and Rebecca, Samuel saw and shared experiences with Bambuti children who had never been to school, old men who had never changed their clothes and women who had been raped by the militia groups in the forests. Worse still Samuel heard horrible stories from Bambuti families whose relatives had been eaten by Interahamwe soldiers who fled from Rwanda after their involvement in the genocide in 1994 and settled in the forests of Congo.
Unfortunately, to date, these soldiers continue to live in the expansive Congo forests in the full knowledge of the International Community. What Samuel thought would be a fun adventure turned out to be a tearful day. He sobbed to see children dying due to malaria and cold. He felt the desperation of men who could not provide for their families. He listened to the people’s anger at the government, society and the churches silence. He saw the irony of a people who were ancient settlers of DRC now reduced to aliens as beggars, squatters and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their own country. In sadness, he listened and began to understand how the government evicted the Bambuti community from the forest home, the only place they called home without giving them an alternative resettlement.
This community has been alienated, marginalized, isolated, and exploited by neighbors in their trading of good. This is a story about a community that has no access to medication, food, clean water and habitable houses. It is a story of the plight of the Bambuti pygmy people and yet it’s a story of hope- yes, streaming hope, that together we can make a difference.
Inspired, Samuel returned back to Kenya, determined to do something to address the plight of the pygmy people. He returned several times to DRC with clothes and food and other supplies but that was not good enough. Later, Samuel researched and identified social needs as constraints to development among the Bambuti community. The book “The Pygmy World: The Endangered Bambuti of Congo” was published in 2008.
For a few years thereafter, Samuel led teams to DRC to help with projects and training, in partnership with churches and local organizations. One of his major projects he was working on was starting a school where children from this community would learn how to read and write.
In November 2011, Samuel founded a non-profit (Partnership for Indigenous Peoples or simply PIPES-International) to help resettle, educate and give hope to Bambuti families in Democratic Republic of Congo.