Mazungu means white person in the local language. In this valley that we lift in where the Village of Rubugeri is located there are no Mazungu, there are no Latinos, there is no one but locals and they come from a few different groups and the Batwa.
The only time the people in the village see Mazungu is when an aid group comes through or when someone comes for Gorilla tracking. The aid groups have different degrees of success in how they interact with the locals but many of the Gorilla tracking Mazungu stop in the village and pass out candy and money so the kids swarm around them. I’m sure it feels good for the people but in effect they are teaching kids to beg. Begging isn’t part of their culture but is becoming part of the culture.
It’s hard to be a volunteer organization here and have to fight this kind of idea. The kids can learn trades to do along with their farming, making local items for trade and they can use this to help make their life better. Or they can wait for a gorilla tracking bus and be really good at begging and make more from that one tracker than they can make it a month doing what we teach them to do.
What would you do if you were that local kid?
Respect, professionalism and perseverance. Life is a gift. Living is a choice.