During the late seventies and early eighties, Nyine Bitahwa was a political refugee in Kiel, Germany, where he established contacts with Church parishes of Kronshagen, Raisdorf, Schoenberg, Preetz and Selent, through Klaus Onnasch, Heinz Regel, Walter Schroeder and Kosbab – then Pastors within the respective Parishes.
Uganda was undergoing social turmoil and civil wars which destroyed many lives and devastated the already underdeveloped economy at that time. Human rights violations in Uganda were already taking place under irresponsible governments for almost two decades. The International Community was not aware of or did not treat the Ugandan regimes as a danger to Humanity. With the assistance of Pastor Klaus Onnasch, various Church Parishes and other Civil society Organizations organized for Nyine Bitahwa to conduct a series of public awareness functions within most of North Germany, with the following objectives:
- To expose activities of Human rights violations in Uganda
- To raise awareness in assisting refugees from Uganda
- To dissuade the business community and the German Government from dealing with the Government
As a result of this initiative, an action group (Uganda Aktionskommitte) was established under the auspices of the Evangelical Churches of North Germany. The objective of this group was to raise public awareness about Human Rights Violations in Uganda. Today they still exist under the name Aktionskommittee Rukararwe (AKR) and its objective is mainly to fundraise for Development Programs of the NGO – RPWRD.
THE POST-WAR PERIOD, 1986
After a 5 year period of a protracted war of liberation, the NRM administration overthrew the dictatorship and established peace which was necessary for national reconstruction and rehabilitation. Nyine Bitahwa was one of the many refugees who returned to take up the country’s challenges.
In July 1986, Nyine Bitahwa assisted the population within Bushenyi to establish a community-based organization (CBO) called Rukararwe Partnership Workshop for Rural Development – RPWRD. This organization was registered three years later as a Non-Governmental Organization and acquired a piece of land 4.6 km north of the Bushenyi township. In its initial stages, RPWRD had the following aims:
- To support government policies in reconstruction and rehabilitation: After several decades of physical destruction of the infrastructure, the country’s economy was devastated and there was the need to mobilize the population for this purpose.
- To offer services to the majority: Due to imbalances in economic planning during the past, most development projects ( Schools, water supply, sanitation, infrastructure, hospitals etc.) were concentrated within the urban areas, where only 10% of the population lives, leaving the majority 90% who live within rural areas in absolute poverty.
- To build clean springs: Clean water is one of the most important goods. Because of poor infrastructure in the post-war season, there were fewer sources to get it and a need for springs with proper water
- To establish a herbal medicine centre: As a result of poor public services western medicine was very expensive and hard to get for a majority of the rural population, so that cheaper, accessible alternative but working alternatives were needed.
- To offer development skills to young people: Because of a lack of employment opportunities, young people were used to roaming the urban areas in search of jobs. To offer skills to young people should enable them to remain in rural areas and become job-makers instead of job seekers.
- To fight poverty: Since rural areas were mostly impoverished, RPWRD established a comprehensive program of poverty alleviation.
- To restore nature: During the years of civil unrest, there was so much strain on the Environment without observing protective measures. As a result of this, the vegetation had dwindled, wetlands were encroached upon and there was massive deforestation. All these had resulted in prolonged dry spells, the disappearance of important medicinal tree spices and increased soil erosion, RPWRD planted a demonstration forest and gave trees to many public facilities like schools.
- To train the rural population in making things for their daily needs: In order to discourage dependency on foreign Aid, rural populations were encouraged to use available raw materials and technical know-how in improving their condition.
- To build new classrooms with earth brick technology: schools were needed at this time to strengthen Ugandan education but burning bricks requires a lot of firewood which enlarges the problem of deforestation so that building with unburned earth bricks was solving both problems
- To support agriculture with zero grazing projects in various workshops: Agriculture was and is one of the main sources of income in Uganda, almost every family is practising it. As a result, knowledge in agriculture is important. Zero grazing cows are staying in a stable, which reduces the needed land. They give more wealth to the family with the possibility of selling milk or calves so that the milk can be used to fight malnutrition while the manure can be used for soil improvement
Eco-Travel – a big step in becoming self-sustainable 2011
Starting in 2011 the eco-travel project has the goal to create income for Rukararwe and make it more self-sustainable. In the best case, the money from the tourists should make foreign donations unnecessary. For this purpose, Rukararwe needs frequent visitors from different sources. Travels are organized by German partners for example in Kiel or GABECO and are also possible as a private person. You can have a look at our accommodation here.
To host visitors 8 Cottages, containing double and single rooms, inspired by classical round huts with simple furniture but western comfort were built on the project’s grounds. Also, Rukararwe offers various different cultural and natural tours in the surrounding areas as well as trips to the great national parks of south-western Uganda.