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People living in the greater St. Louis area will have the opportunity, in two weeks, to help raise funds to support Mbuti education, resettlement, and small business projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A charitable organization called the Partnership for Indigenous Peoples (PIPES) International announced on Craigslist that it is holding a sale of good quality items at the Chappel House Art Gallery, in Florissant, MO, on Saturday March 31, with proceeds to help the Mbuti.

Goma refugee campThe warfare that has raged across the eastern section of Congo for many years has severely impacted them. Formerly secure in their peaceful forest homes, and world famous due to the writings of anthropologist Colin Turnbull, few Mbuti are still able to live in their old environment. Most have had to move south to refugee camps near the city of Goma. Their traumas in the refugee camps, and the conditions in them, have been reported in May and September 2010, plus June and September 2011.

The website of PIPES International provides some background about the organization, which is devoted to helping the Mbuti in their struggles to survive and find new ways of life. It indicates that “PIPES International is a Christian nonprofit mission agency that reaches out to the indigenous communities in East Africa in Word and deed.” The current focus of the organization is the Mbuti.

PIPES International works in Mugunga, a refugee camp located a few miles west of Goma, which was described in a news story on June 23, 2011. It operates a small school for about 120 children, and provides a cup of porridge daily for each. It has been able to secure some tents to help protect the traditional leaf houses the refugees have built for themselves. It also has helped the Mbuti launch some small businesses, such as a clay products enterprise, where people make pottery objects for sale in Goma.

The website of the organization indicates it is working to provide better housing for some of the Mbuti families, and it is trying to advocate for the people with government agencies in the country. The website states that it is glad to accept help from people interested in the plight of the refugees.

On October 31, 2011, the Partnership for Indigenous Peoples (PIPES) International filed with the Missouri Secretary of State for a listing as a domestic non-profit corporation. Samuel Mwangi is listed as the Agent of the new corporation.

The phone number and directions to the Chappel House, for people in the St. Louis area who want to help the Mbuti cause by donating objects to the sale, may be found on the art gallery’s website.