Helping educate the Batwa in Rwanda


The school to untie Batwa indigenous people from the extreme poverty.

Few educated people from Batwa people reveal importance of education to untie from the vicious circle of poverty. In his testimony, Richard Ntakirutimana, as only first and only Mutwa that holds Master’s degree in Rwanda among 40 Batwa graduated students, emphasizes the impact of educating Batwa: “Look at me; I am now a self reliant man because I am educated.’’ When a person is educated, he/she can able to fight for his rights and advocate for his community as I do, he/she can compete at the job market and get a high waged employment and earn a living; the educated people are developed ones. Let’s strengthen the education of indigenous Batwa children by supporting a project that aims to buy the land for nursery school that can turn into primary and secondary school, so that they develop themselves”.

The population number of Batwa estimates 25,000 to 30,000 people out of 12 million of Rwandan population, the Twa face unique challenges and uncertainties related to socioeconomic deprivation, high unemployment and underemployment, social discrimination, and acute political marginalization. The Batwa are believed to be the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes of Central Africa. The equatorial forests were their homelands, providing them with sustenance, medicine and sacred sites. Over the course of several decades, the Batwa were gradually evicted from their traditional lands owing to a combination of deforestation initiatives, and conservation in the name of developmentwithout consultation, compensation or adequate remuneration. These communities were integrated into Rwandan society at the lowest level, forced to adapt a sedentary way of life with inadequate state support and few, if any, resources.

Over 99 per cent of indigenous Batwa adults never went to school and still now, many of their children do not go to school because of extremely poverty and ignorance in their families.In 2006, only 28% of indigenous children attended primary school, compared to 88% of other Rwandans.The recent number indicates that there are only about 42 Batwa pursuing university degrees, 80 in secondary school and 140 attending primary school.

Even though in Rwanda we have “education for all programs”, the indigenous people are still facing barriers to receiving education. Many of their children cannot afford uniforms or school supplies. Additionally, within the classroom, they face discrimination and stigma from their classmates. Most children from indigenous families live in poor health and this result in inability to compete with others academically. Because the most children from indigenous families do not benefit from universal education in the same way as most Rwanda, they do not have the educational background necessary for many jobs that would increase their standard of living and social capital, thus their extreme poverty and they continue to be viewed as primitive and unclean, as separate from the rest of the Rwandans.

AIMPO (African Initiative for Mankind Progress Organisation) needs to raise $10,000 to buy land for a school for Batwa children in Rwanda and I am writing on their behalf. The Japanese embassy in Kigali is willing to finance and build a school if land can be obtained. AIMPO is dedicated to the improvement of the lives of the indigenous Batwa people – an ethnic group living in the Great Lakes region.

Join others around the world in supporting this gofundme campaign.


Cover photo by Dr. Alan Goodall


Tree of hopes

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by Nestor Ramirez, Juarez, Mexico

My name is Nestor Ramirez. I live in Juarez, Mexico where I studied to be an Industrial Engineer.  The community I live in is called Anapra, one of the poorest areas of the city.   You can see it in the distance from UTEP and Sunland Park, New Mexico.

When I was a child I was jealous that my parents spent much of their time with other people feeding them, caring for them and helping them anyway they could.  One day I handed out apples and gave one to a child who said to me what is this? I said it’s an apple. You do not know what it is?   He said that his mom never bought these.  I thought it was a joke and told him to try it. The child bit the apple and said it’s very rich and sweet. My heart then became filled with sadness as I realized at that moment that I had been blessed with many things that other people did not have.  I was not paying attention to what my parents saw every day in their lives.  They saw the needs of other people. I only saw my needs and suddenly realized that giving to others and seeing the satisfaction in the faces of those who had so little, was so important to my life.

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Today I am working with my family and friends in creating a new organization called Tree of Hopes.   It is my dream that Tree of Hopes will help many people without hope experience a better life where they will receive and give love and extend their expectations.  Our world needs to see that there are many ways we all can come together to help someone who needs a home where they can spend pleasant moments with their family, without worries.

This is what motivates Tree of Hopes. I am not only the one who can make this happen; I need the help of others to make this dream a reality.  Working together united as fellow people on this earth we are strong because a single person could never do something like this.  But when many put their hearts together and decide that such a goal is achievable a hope begins to grow like a tree and the branches of the tree can help the hopes of many people who have so little. This is how hope dreams are born.

Tree of Hopes plans to build decent homes and provide food for low income families in Juarez who would never dream of owning their own home.  Today many families sleep in very poor conditions where water drips in from the rain and they have no windows.   Many families cover their primitive dwellings with sheets when winter arrives and freezing temperatures threaten every member of the family.

They live their lives in danger because of these conditions.  Tree of Hopes working with others plans to make a difference in helping these families.   A few years ago during a very strong winter storm it snowed so much making many houses look like freezers in the desert.   I met a family who lived in a school bus.  The roof was full of ice and it was colder inside the bus than outside. In the middle of the snowstorm my sister and I had to take them to a shelter so that they could be safe.  We ​​took them food and water, but still it was not enough.  A home protects the family and that’s what Tree of Hopes plans to do.  Hope is not just a house.  Hope is knowing that the family will be okay when the family can think of doing something else besides trying to survive, where the members of the family can share love with each other and dream of helping others themselves.  I believe that love surpasses all borders, languages, ​​colors and races.  I am planting the tree and need your help in making it grow.   Please contact me if you can help in any way by contacting my friend Rick LoBello. Many of you know him from his job at the El Paso Zoo.   He can be reached at 915-474-1456 by phone or text or by email at