Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meeting the Pygmies!!

October 11, 2011
Bukavu, Eastern DRC

Today was a wonderful day, the perfect start to this project we’ve anticipated for so long!! Dom picked us up in the morning and we were off to see the Pygmies! 

We drove along the edge of gorgeous Lake Kivu, past hundreds of people hard at work, tending to their plots of land… the scene was incredibly beautiful. Fishermen in their pirogues speckled the serene water to our left, and the land to our right was fully lush and alive with banana trees, bean and corn plantations, sugarcane, cassava, calendula and colorfully dressed men and women working.

An hour later, we arrived at a large tea plantation that borders the Pygmy village. We walked down and were greeted by children, adults, babies and elders…. Jambo Sana! We said hello to the village chief, Chizungu, who we met yesterday at a conference in Bukavu, as well as Ciprian, the only man in the tribe who knows how to read and write and therefore never leaves Chizungu’s side. They offered us a seat and soon the whole village was sitting in a circle in front of us. 

Chizungu explained to them that we were not there to give them food or money, as both of these run out, but rather to teach them skills that will allow them to obtain food and money through their own work, and skills never run out. Then Dominique gave us a warm introduction and explained to the community the updates on the project… the women responded with approval and cheers : ) 

We then had a meeting with the tribe’s committee: Chizungu and the group of men and women who jointly make decisions with him. They all took turns expressing their hopes for the project and the specific needs they wish to meet. We were very happy to hear how anxious they are to begin working immediately, and how well they grasp the importance of being taught skills in order to broaden their possibilities. Also, they are so sincerely thankful for this project. We were all thrilled to set the starting date: TOMORROW. We wrote a list of the fast-yielding crops we will work with during this first stage and they showed us the plot of land where we will teach them models of intensive farming using Permaculture. 

Before we left, the whole village danced their traditional dance, which was playful and full of energy. More than half the women jumping around had babies on their backs… the Pygmy population is growing… it is essential that they become self-sustainable in order to feed the new generation. 

We drove back to Bukavu and bought the materials we need for tomorrow…. We can’t wait to start digging!!!

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