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 Africa Trip
Trip to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya – January 2007

This year’s trip was amazing and life changing as usual, filled with amazing animals and unforgettable people. We saw everything from refugee camps in Uganda to wealthy people trying to make a difference in these fantastic countries.


Both Uganda and Rwanda were very safe. We could walk around with no problems in every city we went to. In Kabale, Uganda, I bought some peas from a little girl as a way to give something to her. I decided to leave them because they needed them more then I did and they ran after our tour guide to make sure I got them back. The peas traveled all the way to Rwanda where we gave them along with any other leftover food to our gorilla guide, Francis. The night before our trek to see the gorillas he told us about the genocide and how in only 12 years the people in Rwanda have come such a long way. They have developed their own courts to bring people to justice which may mean building a house or buying a cow and then allowing everyone to forgive each other and move forward. They are all Rwandans now. They have signs everywhere about the genocide so they never will forget and will continue to grow as a country. I was amazed by the strength to heal.

The gorillas were fantastic. We were in the same area where Dian Fossey did her research. There are ten habituated troops of gorillas and seven are used for tourism. Eight people go up at a time for only an hour a day once a day. This minimizes the stress on the troop. I was grabbed by one of them, four of us were. It was a strong gentle touch that is hard to explain and even harder to forget. We were very close to babies and the silver back named Ubumwa which means unity in Rwandan. Our troop name was Amahora which means peace. They were an easy troop to habituate. Seeing them up there on the most beautiful mountain, comfortable in their surroundings brought tears to our eyes. They are true perfection and the picture of peace. Their population has increased 15% in the last couple years so they are up to 700. I strongly recommend a trip to see them. For more information or how to help the animals or orphans, please contact me.

We were off to Lewa in Kenya next. I got to see all the people I know there and all the animals too. I massaged and rode the young horses I have known since they were born. I did a follow-up massage class for the syce (grooms). I also was able to see Tula who is a female black rhino that I worked on when she was six months old. She is too big for that now but it was great to see her and her half brother that I did get to give a scratch to. The sanctuary has done a remarkable job increasing the black rhino population.

I also saw the three cheetah boys eating an ostrich. I have known them since they were born. Lions, zebra, and everything else that is Africa graced my camera lens in my favorite place, Lewa. They are helping to support an AIDs orphanage in the area. I met Sarah there who was left to die as a baby because her mother had died of aids and she has the virus. The women who run the center went and got her out and now she is a bright outgoing 4 year old with a great smile. We saw the lack of enough food and medicine but we also saw how far along they have come. On the way out we met Irene. She was raped 5 years ago by Somali shifters and so were her daughter and son. They have both died of aids and she has very little time left. Kadija and the center give her her only comfort.

Things like this are hard to see but they along with all the beauty are what make Africa special. These people keep going and are grateful for each day whether they are an orphan, dying or helping those who are. Their strength is like that of the amazing animals that surround them. Tourism saves the people who learn to save the animals. I only worked five days this trip and as usual I learned more than I left. If you would like any information on how to help or how to book a trip over, please let me know.

Hope you enjoy the trip summary!


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Last updated on 09/16/2010

Maria Duthie, Animal Massage Practitioner
Tel. 330.721.4640
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