Justin Wren is returning from a trip to Uganda, and recounts the experience on the UG.
Leaving Congo... 3 days ago I buried a Pygmy baby.
Member Since: 10/23/08
Caution: After you read "hardest point..." Know you have the option to stop reading. If you read it your heart will surely be burdened or break.
So I am in Uganda after leaving Eastern Congo (DRC) and have had many UG posters ask that I keep them updated so I thought I'd post a thread.
The last 3 weeks I have had the opportunity to learn, love and live with The Mbuti Pygmies. I was in the deep parts of the second largest rainforest in the world.
•I was accepted as a friend in 8 Mbuti Pygmy villages in the Ituri rainforest
•I was accepted as family in 2 of villages and was even given my own Pygmy name.
•The chief and my new brother named me "Efeosa" which means "The man who loves us."
•It seems crazy to me but even many of the chief's in the deep forest had only heard of, but never seen a person with white skin. MANY people ran and hid behind trees or dove into their huts until finding we were friendly.
•I slept in 4 foot tall leaf huts during the rainy season of the rainforest.
•I got to TRULY love and share life with the unloved people of the Congo jungle
•I got to pay for Bongo's senior year of school and his state exam's before the school year starts... He can now be one of the first Mbuti Pygmies to ever get a diploma.
•Sponsoring a water well (water source is being searched for now.)
•The Pygmies chased out and killed a black mamba that was in the hut next to me.
•digging the grave and burying Andibo, a Mbuti Pygmy who was only 1 and a half years old.
I went having the intention of and knowing that I would SHARE their suffering. I didn't expect what I saw though...
Last year on my visit I heard stories of neglect, of rejection, of human slavery, and even some of the worst acts against humanity you could imagine. But still didn't know of what I heard was fully true or not. It's one thing to collect bunch of information... It's another thing to learn from experience. After these three weeks I feel I have some experience in sharing their pain. I feel I am suppose to be a voice of the unvoiced, love the unloved, and fight for the forgotten.
Four days ago I heard that we were needed to see if we could help a desperately sick mamma and baby boy to the hospital because they couldn't possibly walk...
When we arrived we stumbled upon a less than a hour old dead body of a 1 and a half year old baby boy. Andibo was still bleeding from his ears... His mother was suffering from such drastic starvation that she didn't even have the energy to weep. I didn't even know that was possible...
Three days ago I dug the grave and buried Andibo. The tribe said we might as well dig two because mamma was going to die soon too. I've never heard sorrow and pain come from human beings like I did that day.
Why would they suppose mamma was going to die shortly after her son?
Because Andibo's death was preventable.. Mamma's soon to be death they knew was preventable too... But they knew something I didn't... People don't care about them enough to help.
1 & 1/2 year old Andibo was DENIED treatment and REJECTED at the hospital... TWICE!!! $5-$15 for his total treatment would have been the cost to save his life but the hospital didn't want to "waste" medicine on a "Pygmy Animal."
Mamma got treatment once and was rejected the other time.
Up until I felt Andibo's lifeless body I had only heard similar horror stories but I had never lived it.
Until then I didn't truly believe the stories I had heard of Pygmy Children dying from denial at hospitals... Nurses and doctors get into medicine to help people don't they? I couldn't imagine it.
Pygmies are "owned" by their Bantu slave masters. I personally witnessed 60 year old women being paid only 20 CENTS... 20 cent's worth of banana's, salt or soap for 10-12 hours of work. HARD work in the fields. I met at least 8-10 men who said they OWN the Pygmies.
The hospital didn't treat Andibo because he was a Mbuti... He was the son of a widowed slave... Who's husband already died of sickness and now she had also fallen ill and couldn't pay a few dollars for her son's treatment. They certainly tried though...
Mamma was sick too and the chief gave a chicken to the hospital to treat them both and it only got mamma 1/10th of the treatment she needed... They told her she was too dirty to stay at the hospital and for them both to leave.
Firewood, salt, and eggs were brought and they even scrapped up 3 dollars for Andibo's treatment. He was still rejected.... And ultimately died. How could this EVER be possible???
The same Bantu's that are the slave masters in the fields... Are the same Bantu's that work at the hospitals. Maybe the husband owns the "Pygmy Animal slave" in the field and the wife is the nurse who is at the hospital.
Now, quick disclaimer... I met some good individual Bantu's but culturally and as a whole they are BRUTALIZING the Pygmies. Because of the Bantu's neglect and racism Pygmy children are LITERALLY dying of preventable diseases.
I am wrecked... So many good things happened and then at the same time I saw so much suffering. As we got mamma some fresh fish and fruits... Only then did she finally have the energy to mourn her child's death.
Here is my request for you guys...
I feel the intense burden to continue to go back and to maybe start a foundation, organization, or non profit for the Pygmy people.
I found an incredible team of local Congolese that are helping develop and LOVE the Pygmies from the developmental program of a Eastern Congo University... They are buying Pygmies their own land to escape the slave owners. Building schools for Pygmies, water wells, giving some medicine and they plan much much more.
Do you have any idea's on how to be a VOICE for these people who have no voice?
I know I am only one, but I can do what I can. Do you think a foundation for these people would be something that would be possible? That could make an impact ad a difference? If so how do you start one?
My hope would to be to help start a movement to bring assistance, aid, equality, HOPE and LOVE to a hurting people. To help them develop into equal people with the tribes that surround them. My heart is just so broken for these people and I really can't understand how human beings can literally believe and treat other humans like they are wild, disgusting animals.
Really I am running on fumes Physically and about to sleep in the airport in Uganda bc i gave away some expenses to help Bongo go to school... I am exhausted and was in some pretty harsh conditions so sorry for rambling the last bit. I am ranting... But hoping to get some feedback.
Please help me with some insightful feedback!
Please let me know how I can get this cause out there!
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