Singing and dancing forms a major part of Batwa culture. (Click to enlarge)

The Story of the Pygmies

The story of the Rwandan Pygmies is one of the gradual marginalization of a once-populous people. Originally hunter-gatherers in the forests of Rwanda, the Pygmies' traditional culture and way of life differ dramatically from the mainstream, causing a history of conflict and resulting in a very real threat to their extinction. This conflict even manifests in their identity as a people. Following the Rwandan genocide of 1994, all ethnic identification (even self-identification) was outlawed - leading the Batwa Pygmies to rename themselves the 'Community of Potters' in order to gain recognition by the government; because many had become potters after they could no longer hunt or forage.

In 1998, the Pygmies were driven from the Nyungwe Forest and from the Volcanoes National Park by the creation of sanctuaries for the mountain gorillas and other animals. Today the Batwa Pygmies of Rwanda drift closer to extinction. Their lands have been taken by private developers. Their traditional sources of food are nearly exhausted. And with no shoes, their children are not allowed to attend school. But there is hope.

Thanks to these ground-breaking efforts, Pygmy children now have shoes to wear to school. (Click to enlarge)

The Pygmy Survival Alliance (PSA) - an international 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that brings together public health and development experts from Rwanda and the United States - has piloted programs to help the Pygmies lift themselves out of poverty and build a new and sustainable future.. Using proceeds from the sale of Coffee Rwanda, PSA has been able to provide the Pygmies with increased access to healthcare, education, leadership skills and income-generating activities that have helped the Pygmies regain their dignity and raise their standard of living.

But our mission is far from complete. We face an uphill battle against malnutrition, destitution, and inaccessible education, and we need all the allies we can recruit. This is why your help is more vital now than ever. The purchase of just one bag of Coffee Rwanda provides enough money to help send six children to school. And a donation to the Pygmy Survival Alliance will go even further towards helping the Pygmies on their road to self-sufficiency.

You can help make a difference. Thank you.

Pygmy men dig terraces to help improve the quality of agriculture in their village. (Click to enlarge)