One major challenge for gold mining communities in Uganda and elsewhere is the lack of alternatives. The miners who dig by hand work very hard and without protective clothing, are being exposed to mercury and are only earning money when they find gold… In order to change that we are strengthening income generating alternatives in our partner community in Eastern Uganda. Together with the miners we find ways towards a future without gold mining!
Earthbeat supports sustainable sources of income for people in gold mining. An idea that derived from the community in Uganda with whom we worked was: beekeeping. Thereupon we developed our project Heartbeat Honey, in which we were able to carry out intensive beekeeping training courses over a year with the help of a training partner from Uganda. It is important that local people see it as their own business. Therefore we only provide a starting investment, the trainings, some equipment and beehives. And it works! The first honey is already flowing! The future consists of “liquid gold”!
With our project Heartbeat Garden we support gold miners in Uganda through permaculture trainings. In this way, people learn to cultivate crops, such as coffee, in mixed cultivation and to make valuable compost themselves. In a permaculture garden the plants support each other, so no fertilizer or pesticide use is necessary. With the help of specially selected plants, toxins such as mercury can also be filtered out of the groundwater! And most importantly, people can secure a sustainable income generating activity to gold by selling high-quality organic products
HONEY FOR A BETTER FUTURE!
After our successful Crowdfunding campaign in late 2016, we managed to finance and organize a bee-keeping training for the miners in Busia, Uganda! Together with small scale gold miners in Eastern Uganda we developed a bee-keeping project, containing trainings and 240 bee-hives plus equipment, as an alternative income generating activity in order to make them less dependent on gold mining. The comany THE HIVE executed the trainings on the ground. About 70 people have completed training on how to take care of bees, harvest the honey and then sell for income. It’s all about empowerment of people. We look forward to see the bee-keeping venture grow!
OUR JOURNEY(S) TO BUSIA, UGANDA
To meet these proud people working under unbelievable circumstances was more than eye opening. In 2013, an Earthbeat team travelled for the first time to Eastern Uganda. The creativity and joie de vivre, especially of the hard working women, was stunning. We were impressed to see how fiercely they make the best of their situations, even though they face challenges and inequality every day. While brainstorming possible solutions on our last trip in March ’16, we were inspired by the idea of supporting a bee-keeping project. That has been our first step! But certainly not our last… Come with us to a journey and watch our documentary about the last trip:
MEET THE MINERS
Robert is a hydrologist by profession, but has been as a miner since 1988. He is one of the leading creative minds of the community. His visions and ideas for the future set essential goals for his peers towards an independent and dignified life. One of his important future projects is the production of honey through sustainable bee-keeping. His main concern is to create alternative sources of income.
Frederic is 49 years old and has been working in gold mines all his life. “Pits are deep. And they are susceptible to collapsing as you go deeper. Sometimes we are forced to go up to 60 ft deep. When the groundwater rises and cannot be pumped off fast enough, the walls get too soft and collapse…”
Joseph has been working in the mines for about 20 years. To provide for himself and his family, he is “ever busy”. During the rainy season, when gold mining is not possible, he works in the garden. “My dream is for us to be ok…”
is fighting passionately for the women miners’ rights and is convinced that education plays a key role in that development. She is the treasurer of one of the women miners associations and works part time as a teacher. The mother of four children is hopeful for the upcoming Heartbeat Uganda projects: “what we have been looking for, for a long time has fallen directly into our hands!”
Betty has four children. Although she works in the mine every day, she is barely able to support her family or send her offspring to school. In order to provide the basics, she grows vegetables in her garden. The challenges she faces are plenty.
Simon has been working in the mines since he was a child. He is now head of one of the miners’ groups. When we asked him about his thoughts about mining and alternatives like agriculture he said: “I would walk to mining, but run to farming!” No doubt that he prefers the latter.
Mary is a mother and a central female person in the gold mining community of her village. As the treasurer of her mining group (SWIMA) is a very responsible and reliable person. Besides working in the mines, she sustains herself with a herd of goats. Like most of her peers, Mary strives for a life without the hazardous risks of mining.