THE Social integration of historically marginalised people
We are involved mainly in environmental conservation and social integration of historically marginalized people. To this end, we have implemented a project called “Improving socio economic conditions of Historically Marginalized people around Nyungwe National Park". The historically marginalised people in Rwanda lived on the fringes of Volcanoes Forest, solely depending on the forest for subsistence in the period 1925 – 1980. They spent a lot of their time inside the forest gathering fruits, game meat, and wild honey. These activities, however, were declared illegal when the new law governing the protected area was gazetted in 1980. Due to the new government policies, these communities were forced to leave the forest . Since then this community has found difficult to adapt to new life, and have continued to live in isolation and extreme poverty, practising as activities pottery and hunting. For them, the forest was the sole source of their livelihood as most of them did not own land when they were evicted from the forest. Various reports on the historically marginalised people recognise them as living in some of the poorest living conditions in Rwanda with very limited access to basic needs.
Despite government and development organisations' efforts to provided small plots of arable land and agro-inputs to some families of of these communities; because most of them were not used to undertaking agricultural work, other community members have taken advantage of their ignorance and exploit them while the HMPs continued to depend on park wild honey. Our aim at REDO is to empower the historically marginalized people to be the leader and initiators of their own livelihood transformation by fighting the root causes of poverty while protecting the natural resources. We work to ensure that that the marginalized peoples living around Volcanoes National Park have increased right of access and control over natural resources, support historically marginalized people gain improved income from beekeeping enterprises amongst other income generating activities, and increase capacity for historically marginalized people in representing and actively participating in decision-making, governance and local institutions.
Literacy, Numeracy and Basic Human Rights training
REDO supports the social integration of historically marginalised adults through the provision of a literacy program composed of 68 modules of different lessons equipping them with reading, writing and numeracy skills. These programmes help our beneficiaries to overcome barriers and difficulties imposed by lack of literacy and numeracy skills, and will contribute to the improvement of their socioeconomic conditions. Also included is education on their fundamental human rights, empowering the marginalised communities with self-confidence and better understanding and enjoyment of their human rights, and enabling them to participate actively in freely in civil society. They are also taught of their responsibilities as citizens of Rwanda such as sending children to school and abiding by the law.
Legalising HMP marriages
REDO provides opportunities for husbands and wives to legalise their marriages and register their children into civic status books. Apart from legal recognition, this reduces family conflicts that results over inheritance and succession, and ensures civic rights for registered children.
The Historically Marginalised people’s culture is intimately linked to forests and their surrounding areas. For them, forests are a source of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Near the Nyungwe National Park, the HMP’s living conditions are very poor as they have little or no land and have no access to forest resources as they once did in the past before the government designated the land as protected areas.
At REDO, we work very closely with the historically marginalised people to improve their livelihoods through the promotion beekeeping enterprises as additional sources of income. Bees can be kept by women and men of all ages. Physically- challenged persons can also keep bees as it is not a labour intensive task, but rather requires tender care. Also the training we provide families on how to develop vegetable seed nurseries and the construction of kitchen gardens have not only helped improve our beneficiaries’ access to food, but also excess harvest has been sold to generate additional income for the household.
We also support young people in these communities through training programmes that equip them with the necessary skills to manufacture and sell various furniture and handicrafts transformed from bamboo such as baskets, plates, chairs, tables and wooden skewers; as well as fine handicraft products. The selling of such products increase their incomes and have seen improvements in their conditions of living.