Episcopal Medical Missions Foundation

Making A Difference
 

EMMF: Making a Difference in Uganda

 

 

The mountain gorillas of southwest Uganda are an endangered species that have been brought to the edge of extinction by poachers who traffic in their body parts.  The gorillas and the Batwas, an indigenous pygmy tribe, have lived harmoniously in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for centuries until the Ugandan government declared the rainforest off limits to all persons except tourists and biologists who are given special permission to enter the forest accompanied by government officials.  The Batwas were forced, often at gun-point, from their aboriginal home, and left to wander the plains without shelter, land or medical care.  Moreover the Batwas, who had lived as hunter-gathers in the forest, were without farming or other skills to live outside the forest.  When discovered by the Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda, the Batwas had been forced to travel throughout Uganda to find work chasing monkeys out of farms.  Others turned to dancing for tips and other menial jobs. More importantly the Batwas, who had enjoyed life away from the diseases of civilization, now were dying of diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, tetanus, and polio, most of which are preventable by immunizations.  The Archbishop approached the Diocese of Dallas, in particular Mrs. Diane Stanton, the wife of Bishop James Stanton and an anthropologist in her own right, to lead the resettlement of the tribe.  Mrs. Stanton asked EMMF to provide medical oversight for the resettlement effort.  Since the region was remote from any health facilities, EMMF initially found a Ugandan physician willing to travel to the area to begin inoculating the Batwas against measles, diphtheria, tetanus, and polio.  Hampered by the lack of electricity for refrigeration of the vaccines and by long distances, the immunization program went slowly and the death rate of the Batwas continued to climb.  The death rate for children under five years of age was 40%.  It seemed, ironically, that the Batwas were near extinction themselves.

 
Answering the call for assistance for the Batwas that he saw on the EMMF web site, Dr. Scott Kellermann, a family physician and specialist in tropical medicine and a member of Trinity Church in Nevada City, California, informed EMMF of his interest in going to Uganda.  A seasoned medical missionary with experience in Asia, Africa, and Central America, Dr. Kellerman and his wife Carol went to Uganda in the fall of 2001 and completed the immunization program.  He also addressed the serious lack of perinatal care and the high rate of infant mortality.  Now the death rate among the Batwas is declining rapidly.

Links


History
Site Visit
Bishop John Nteavereize report
Reverend Emmanuel Twinamatsiko report

Reverend Benon Biryomumeisho. Katairiro Pygmy Project report - Kinkiizi District, Rukungiri, Uganda

Survey

Proposal and Costs

A school is built for the Batwas

 

 

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