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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 then undergoing social turmoil and civil wars which destroyed many lives and devastated the already underdeveloped economy. Human rights violations in Uganda were already taking place under irresponsible governments for almost two decades. The International Community was not aware, 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 Right 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, a pressure 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 this establishment still exists under the names 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 then 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.
During July 1986, Nyine Bitahwa assisted the population within Bushenyi to establish a community based organization (CBO) called the 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 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 ad there was need to mobilize the population for this purpose.
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. One of the most important aims of RPWRD therefore, was to offer services to the majority of the needy population
Because of lack of employment opportunities, young people were used to roaming the urban areas in search of jobs. RPWRD aimed at offering development skills to young people so that they can remain in the rural areas and become job-makers instead of job seekers.
Since rural areas were mostly impoverished, RPWRD established a comprehensive program of poverty alleviation.
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, disappearance of important medicinal tree spices and increased soil erosion.
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.