A hand-to-mouth existence | VailDaily.com

A hand-to-mouth existence

Marty Jones
Special to the Daily Lisa Efraimson on the chimpanzee trail

FORT PORTAL, Uganda – After spending Monday, Tuesday and much of Wednesday doing home visits, we were informed the container we had come to unload and organize was still delayed. We made a decision to extend our stay for two days and go to Mewya for some much needed rest and relaxation. After tussling with logistics we decided to bring one car, the only one which has been operational, and Moses would bring the other one when it was repaired, probably tomorrow. When we leave here I am going to Bwindi to track gorillas and the rest are returning to Fort Portal. I was supposed to go while we were here at Mweya but when we moved our date up at Mweya mine could not be changed. I tried to cancel it but had no success so I decided to go ahead and go. The container should be waiting when we get back to Fort Portal. Why are we here?At this point I feel that I have been remiss in communicating to you all the true nature of life here. Life here is on a very basic subsistence level. It’s hand to mouth in a very real sense.

It is partly due to poverty and part due to their culture. The gifts we provide for our children and grandmothers are the only gifts they will receive all year. They mean so much to them as 95 percent of the populace probably earns less than $400 per year. The grandmothers earn even less, if anything. This is why they are so spellbound by us. Why would we leave the comfort of our homes and family’s to fly 10,000 miles to come and help them? It is beyond their comprehension. All they can do is thank the lord and praise him for our presence. Talk about a humbling experience. It is such blessing to be here and seeing all the joy our mere presence brings to so many lives. I hope in these letters and the pictures I bring back this year I can begin to impart this message to all of you. Last year it was an adventure, this year it is a mixture of joy, sadness, helplessness, power and spreading the love of Jesus to people who are so deserving, so receptive and so willing to reciprocate.Well we are off to dinner at this truly wonderful, magical place – Mewya, an African adventure in itself.I am sitting at the pool side bar writing this and watching the boy’s in the swimming pool. The sun is setting over Lake George and the egrets are flocking. Dan I’m going to need more than 20 minutes this year. Be prepared. An elephant visits

Friday: Back poolside with the boys. We had a nice rain shower this morning. It cooled things off nicely. This evening Belinda and I are going on safari. Dave and Lisa went this morning. We decided to split into two groups to allow every one to fit comfortably in one vehicle. Dave and Lisa saw a lioness and two cubs, three hippos crossing the road in front of them, and many elephants on their trip. I hope ours is as productive. I ran into a Canadian man this morning that is with a group traveling through out this part of Africa for seven weeks. They are riding in a 5-ton truck with seats mounted where the bed should be and a canvas top. Talk about riding like a truck, it must be miserable – no air conditioning, plus they are camping. He said that last night an elephant came through their camp. It walked gently between some of their tents, which are fairly close together. I would not enjoy camping here. The heat would be one problem, the animals another. I guess they must be intrigued by it. Tomorrow it is on to Bwindi. We have heard lately that the container probably won’t be here till Monday, which is the day I will return to Fort Portal. I am very excited about tracking the gorillas. I hope I have the strength for this most rigorous of climbs, The forest and birds are also if interest to me. We’ll see what Bwindi brings.

Belinda gave me a card from a doctor who has recently moved there. She met him at Mewya. He and his wife gave up a practice in Southern California and came here to help the pygmies. There is a group of around 600 that he treats. He told her to have me look him up when I get there. I’ll do that.Encouraging aspirationsIt is so pleasant here. So peaceful, except for the children playing in the pool, which sometimes reaches a crescendo that rivals the chimps at Kibale. This is a wonderful place for them to be at this time in their lives. It may give them some inspiration to make something of their lives – to aspire for something greater than where they are now. It wouldn’t take much for them to be in a better place than where they are now. I guess that is our ultimate goal here – provide hope.Vail, Colorado

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