Wood Carving to be promoted by the Rwerere Enterprise and Training Centre (RECTC)
Francis Ahorwendeye, SingirumukizaDamaseni, EriaBigirinwano are members of the same family and have survived on wood work to fend for their families.
The skills were inherently passed on from their parents and they solely used to depend on forest resources as raw materials for their artifacts.
With the gazetting of the national forests these traditional craftsmen have witnessed a scarcity of their raw materials like wood for curving.
The BwindiMgahinga Conservation Trust (BMCT) introduced them to the idea of planting trees and sourcing raw materials from communities rather than directly depending on forests.
“Initially we got trees from the national parks but now they are bought expensively from people in the communities”. Says FrancisAhorwendeye whom we met in their make shift workshop outside the family courtyard.
The Tourism Officer Kisoro District Richard Munezero said such families are set to benefit from the Rwerere Enterprise and Training Centre (RECTC) in Rubanda district.
“Our plan is to use the centreand this crafts men to train other community members to pass on such skills as a source of livelihood as we promote tourism and conserve the forests.”.Munezero said.
The tourism officer reported that the centre has a section where wood carvings, craftsand other community products will be marketed.
“We already have 40 members registered for the crafts centre and three entertainment groups for cultural dance, drama mainly Batwa, Kiga and Bufumbira dances for performances in the amphi-theartre. We are incorporating more activities like wood carvings from the communities so that the skill can be passed on to other members in the community and to market their products”, he said.
The family makes a variety of products including wooden ladles, spoons and bowelsand traditional motorsand have been able to use the proceeds from their work to meet the basic needs.
“The little money we get we buy books and pay fees and buy soap but you can afford that when you are not a drunkard”. Francis Ahorwendeye said.
EriaBigirinwano recalls the days when they would freely move to the forests and harvest the raw materials before the BwindiMgahinga National parks were gazzetted.
“We lack raw materials like trees for wood. We have to book trees from farmers during the planting season and wait till harvesting season. We also used to have blacksmiths who used to design the tools but are now phasing out. The young generation is rushing to Kampala and not interested in this kind of work and will soon disappear”. EriaBigirinwano observed.