At this time of year, when “back to school supplies” start appearing in stores, I often contemplate how different the attitude towards school attendance is among the Batwa community where the Kellermann Foundation focuses its work in Uganda.
Having the privilege of quality public education through out childhood is easily taken for granted. When most families in Nevada County are budgeting for school shoes and sports equipment, Batwa families must decide which, if any, of their children will even go to school.
In Uganda, education is not free; families must pay fees for their children to attend.
School fees are far beyond the means of most indigenous Batwa pygmy families, especially for a good education at better schools.
Daughters frequently stay at home as they are deemed less likely to benefit from an education and more highly valued for their ability to bring a “bride price.” This may sound strange to our western ears but part of the challenging reality of working in a different culture is trying to affect a change in attitudes. Fortunately, we are now seeing signs of change as the Kellermann Foundation, started right here in Nevada County, recently helped celebrate the university graduation of two Batwa students, both who have returned to work with the Batwa community and will serve as powerful role models.
The Kellermann Foundation strives to sponsor as many Batwa children as possible who wish to attend school and hopes that Nevada County residents will be a part of that effort. It can be as easy as a walk in the park or more precisely by participating in this year’s Kellermann’s Batwa Challenge 5k 10k run/walk. It will take place on Saturday, Aug. 16 at Pioneer Park in Nevada City (See box for details). Register online at http://www.batwa challenge.com. Other opportunities to support Batwa education can be found on the Kellermann Foundation website at www.Keller mannfoundation.org.
Jean Creasey DDS, is president of the Kellermann Foundation.