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Project Olangama

Project Olangama

MMA fighter Justin Wren assists latest Paul McBeth Foundation project

Thursday, December 7, 2023 - 10:17

(Article by Shane Robison — Photos by Paul McBeth Foundation)

Project Olangama, one of Paul McBeth Foundation’s newest course announcements, was just installed this past week.

Olangama is a general name denoting the work being done amongst a particularly underserved people group in Uganda, the Batwa Pygmy people. This community is over 12 hours from the nearest disc golf course and is cut off from many of the luxuries of the developed world. The PMF introduced the sport for the first time to this entirely new audience, in collaboration with former UFC fighter and current Bellator MMA fighter, Justin Wren.

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Justin and his organization Fight for the Forgotten have worked amongst the people of the Olangama project since 2013, drilling 83 wells and impacting over 52,000 people. In addition to introducing the Batwa Pygmy people to clean drinking water, Fight for the Forgotten has completed many health initiatives through the the Batwa Whole Community Development Project. The initiative not only enriches the community's recreational landscape, but also enhances the overall quality of life for its members, which disc golf will be seamlessly fitting into, thanks to PMF.

Justin’s story of involvement with the indigenous African peoples has been well-documented, and deservedly so. In 2012, Wren took a life-changing trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo to rediscover himself and to learn how his fighting career might have a greater impact. Prior to the trip, the former UFC man was struggling with identity, but upon returning from Africa, Wren discovered a new purpose, to coincide with a new nickname.

“For me, my life changed when I went from fighting against people to fighting for people,” The Big Pygmy said. “I’m so excited to be partnering with PMF and the whole disc golf community. One of the things that disc golf does is it brings the community together, so the Batwa Pygmy people are now going to have recreation, while spending time together.”

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One of the recent courses installed by PMF in Uganda is situated at Ndejje University. This course, along with on-site Project Driver Israel Muwanguzi, has quickly become a hub for disc golf all over the continent. Ndejje University began producing disc golf baskets earlier this year in their local community, meaning that the cost for building a course in Africa is now significantly reduced. These Ugandan baskets will be installed at Project Olangama, a huge step for disc golf in Africa.

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In order to help fund this project, PMF and Fight for the Forgotten have enlisted the willing aid of Ledgestone and the PDGA. Together, the four organizations have worked swiftly to make this project a reality, while raising awareness for an indigenous people group in need of significant financial support. If you would like to give to help the ongoing efforts of the Batwa Whole Community Development Project, you can do so here. Each donation is matched dollar-for-dollar by Fight For The Forgotten and is considered a tax-deductible contribution.

“At the Paul McBeth Foundation one of our core values is collaboration and partnership, and this project has fully embodied this.  We are so grateful that Fight For The Forgotten was open to this sport that they knew very little about, and thankful that Ledgestone and the PDGA have such a strong commitment to seeing the sport grow that they were willing to get behind the project financially and help make it a reality,” shared Dustin Leatherman, the PMF Executive Director.

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Three years after the inception of PMF, projects like Olangama prove that the organization has truly taken to heart Paul’s original vision.

“It’s easy to take for granted all that we have been given,” McBeth said in 2021. “This work is about coming together and building opportunities. We want to share the game we all love with the world.”

If you want to support future projects like this one, check out the Paul McBeth Foundation End of Year Auction which is live now!

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