Paul McBeth Foundation in partnership with Fight for the Forgotten, is excited to unveil Project 3.4 - Olangama, an initiative that brings the power of disc golf to the heart of a Batwa Pygmy community near the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Working within the comprehensive Batwa Whole Community Development Project, this endeavor embodies a holistic approach to empowerment and well-being.
The two organizations will work together to install a nine-hole disc golf course with baskets that will be built by Ndejje University, the location of PMF’s previous Project 2.3.
Fight for the Forgotten is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to walking alongside displaced indigenous peoples groups in western Uganda to help ensure their health and human rights. The organization was founded by former UFC fighter with a pro MMA record of 15-2, Justin “The Big Pygmy” Wren.
“Since our inception, Fight for the Forgotten’s mission has been to put love and compassion in action and to build better lives," Wren said. "The Batwa people have been oppressed for hundreds of years, and in the last decades, it has become even more difficult for them, as their traditional way of life was taken away when they were removed from the forest and no longer able to hunt and gather. Our aim is to help them rebuild to a healthy and thriving community. At the core of every human heart is play, friendship, and connection with each other. I believe our partnership with PMF is going to elevate and amplify human connection, peace building, and community transformation.”
The course will be part of the Batwa Whole Community Development Project, a multi-faceted endeavor led by Fight for the Forgotten that is designed to create a safe and dignified space for the displaced Batwa and surrounding tribal communities. With a focus on healing, growth, and thriving, this initiative encompasses diverse elements, including health care, education, livelihood opportunities, and comprehensive training in community transformation.
“Developing the Batwa community from within is at the core of how we work together,” said Zoe Pacciani, Director of Operations for Fight for the Forgotten. “Their goals are our mission. Their struggles become our opportunities to work with them to overcome. We do not impose our vision or values on the Batwa, rather, we listen and act. We do not believe in band-aid solutions, rather, we aim to implement long-lasting solutions. We address the problem at the core through a combination of infrastructure development, community healing and health, and individual skills development. Our success may not be immediate, but it will be enduring.”
By seamlessly integrating disc golf into the Batwa Whole Community Development Project, the initiative not only enriches the community's recreational landscape but also enhances the overall quality of life for its members. The Batwa Community currently resides on 50 acres of land, showcasing remarkable progress with new houses, sanitation facilities, clean water supply, a football pitch, a playground, and household garden plots. As part of the project's wider scope, the focus extends to neighboring land, home to more than 3,000 non-Batwa neighbors. The region, however, lacks essential amenities; the nearest primary school, health center, and market are all challenging to access due to being significant distances away.
Within this context, Paul McBeth Foundation and Fight for the Forgotten see the introduction of disc golf as a catalyst for positive change. The sport, with its inclusive nature, will not only offer a recreational outlet but also foster community interaction and overall well-being. By embracing disc golf, the Batwa Pygmy community can experience newfound opportunities for growth, learning, and connection. The course will offer further opportunity for the Batwa and their neighbors to come together, leaving behind concerns of tribe or belonging and just being and just playing, bringing them closer together.
The Paul McBeth Foundation has partnered with Ledgestone and the Professional Disc Golf Association for this project to introduce the sport of disc golf as a unique recreational opportunity in this community. PMF thanks both Ledgestone and the PDGA for their support in bringing disc golf to everyone!
A small team from PMF and Fight for the Forgotten will head to the project site later this year to complete the design, install the course, and continue teaching disc golf to the Batwa community.
Be sure to tune in Wednesday, September 13th at 8:30pm est for the Nick & Matt Show on YouTube for a live conversation with Paul McBeth & Justin Wren about this project.