November 27 is the sixth anniversary of my summit on Mount Kilimanjaro. I can't believe its been that long. What is most disturbing is knowing that I haven't even put on my hiking boots for over a year! So instead of balloons and champagne to commemorate the day, I will be walking... and walking... and walking... November 19 to January 18 2023 I will be walking 10 miles a day. Yes, on Christmas and New Years Eve and New Years Day... every single day.
There will be posts to follow. Should be interesting...
A John Mark Update
For those of you who know about our friend John Mark, he has paid his down payment and now needs 1,000 dollars more. Please remember, he is the ONLY representative for Uganda. If he doesn't go, they have no voice. Just ten dollars or even five would help. We all have so much...
How do we stop the greed?
Africa still has a few places of quiet beauty. There are still places where the ravages of industry have not laid waste the land or eradicated animal species. Now in an effort to feed the greed even Canada is trying to destroy the last place on Earth that is innocent...
John Mark is twenty-one year old Ugandan student with a powerful opportunity. He is the ONE student in all of his country, invited to participate in a UN conference on climate change.
His aunt, Margaret Twahirwa is my friend.
Uganda is a poor country and the people struggle. John Mark is one of them.
This is the letter his aunt wrote to me, posted with her permission.
thank you for asking about my nephew Yes, John Mark was the only student in the whole country selected by the United Nations to attend this youth conference in Istanbul. John Mark was chosen from among all college students who competed in an essay writing program to discuss global issues. His essay was the one that qualified him to be the only candidate to represent our country, Uganda.
He is now in need of donations to help out with the purchase of airline ticket, and accommodation. He is scheduled to attend the conference in February next year, 2023. He needs two thousand US dollars to make this trip. If you know anyone who is able to help, our family would be so grateful. John Mark says that people are always willing to help if they can, we only need to ask. I believe he is right. Here is my husband’s Zelle account (SEE BELOW) if anyone is able to contribute. His deadline for payment is December 1. Any amount given is very appreciated. Thank you and to all those you have reached out to on John Mark’s behalf.
I am hopeful that my dear friends and family will reach into their pockets. Ten dollars from ten people is one hundred dollars. If you can, send it along. I will keep you posted on John Mark’s journey, IF he is able to go. Please consider helping this amazing young man.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan
Zelle Account below
firstname.lastname@example.org. John Mark's uncle. Margaret's husband.
November 14th, 2022
October 23rd, 2022
October 23, 2022
Kilimanjaro is burning…
While we slept, the mountain was burning. Mount Kilimanjaro, my Empress, caught fire on Saturday and fire fighters continue to work to contain the conflagration.
We all believe we have time. We procrastinate or postpone till next year or the year after or when we retire, and what we fail to account for is how swiftly things change. When Notre Dame burned, I cried not only for the loss of the history and beauty but for those who never saw the 500-year-old structure. Each day we lose species, landmarks, art, history, nature… Are we aware?
I can only say that if something is important to you, remember that it is temporary. We never know how long we have or how long we will have that which we value. Kilimanjaro is burning… hopefully it is not irreparable damage. May we all be aware of how precious and fleeting is our world in all its intricacies. Don’t wait. Time moves on…
It's a small world after all
A friend's retirement party led me to Seattle, Washington over the Labor Day weekend. Looking at Mount Rainier from 35,000 feet made me miss my Empress more than usual.
I left the airport lost in thought and as I stood on the curb waiting for my ride, I thought about my friends in Tanzania and my hoped for visit to the Maasai Village.
When my Lyft driver rolled up he seemed to jump from the car while the wheels were still moving. He opened my door then put the luggage in the trunk. I don't usually get such service from a ride share company!
He got in and as soon as he spoke I recognized the sound.
"I love your accent, are you by any chance from East Africa?" "Yes, Ma'am, I am from Somalia."
From that moment on the conversation never stopped. We talked about Kilimanjaro, tribal people, and his own experiences with the Maasai.
His unique and charming take on the differences between the United States and East Africa was more than surprising. He kept me entertained all the way to Tacoma.
As I left, I presented him with a copy of the book, Before the Empress (yes I just happened to have an extra copy with me.) He was overwhelmed and so grateful. I told him it was my pleasure, and it truly was (and yes, I also tipped him- quite well I might add.)
As he drove away I felt just a little more connected to my far away home.
Who would have thought that I would find a little bit of my African home on a weekend trip to the Great Northwest? I guess it is true. It is a small world after all.
Wildlife vs Greed
The Selous Game Preserve is an area of Tanzania that is home to lions, zebra, elephants, giraffe, only to name a few species. Earlier this year, Magufuli, the president of Tanzania, announced plans to sell part of this preserve to China for the building of a hydroelectric plant.
Reuters World News July 26 reported:
"Magufuli made his announcement at the inauguration of construction work for the $3 billion Rufiji hydroelectric project at Stiegler’s Gorge, inside the Selous reserve.
The World Wildlife Fund said the proposed dam would put the site and the livelihoods of over 200,000 people at risk, and that UNESCO had warned that any resulting damage would put the Selous’s status of World Heritage Site at risk."
Despite the warnings from UNESCO and the World Wildlife Fund, Magufuli is moving ahead with the project.
"...'the project would take up only 3 percent* of the wildlife sanctuary. Tanzania is among global leaders in conservation activities, having allocated over 32 percent of our country’s total land to conservation,” he said. “Nobody can teach us about conservation.'"
"Stupidity talks and vanity acts." (Victor Hugo)
It is clear that when it comes to government decision making they have the corner on both. Boasting that "nobody can teach us (meaning himself) about conservation" is not only arrogant, it is incorrect. Anyone who fully understands the scientific and ecological implications of that dam would never have signed off on it. "Pride goeth before destruction." Unfortunately, it will not be his destruction... or maybe it will.
*three percent of the Selous Game Preserve is approximately six hundred and thirty square MILES of land.
Before They Are Gone
According to National Geographic The Maasai Giraffe have decreased fifty percent in the last thirty years. This is staggering. These remarkable creatures can't disappear. A giraffe's head and neck weigh 500 pounds- a human head weighs about eight. They stand eighteen feet tall, the tallest land mammal. They have prehensile tongues, they sleep only five minutes at a time and they hum to each other at night, all night. They are very interactive with each other and with people, and although I would have guessed, I had no idea how smart they are. Our tour guide spoke to "Kubwa" and he responded to her casual vocal commands. If you look closely at the photo you can see he is wrapping his mouth around my hand, and he did it ever so gently. Consider supporting Giraffe Conservation Foundation or even the San Diego Wild Animal Safari Park. We cannot let these amazing animals disappear.
San Diego Wild Animal Safari Park