Following up on my posting about how some husbands find their wives boring and what to do about that, here’s how Makena and our friend came together, in our friend’s own words:
On Sunday, Iman (a young doctor from the truck) and I took the bus back [to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in Nairobi National Park, Kenya] for another look at the elephants. We got the bus early thinking it would take ages but in fact we were there an hour early having to walk from the road past warthogs and baboons.
After seeing the elephants I signed up and became a foster parent to the smallest elephant called Makena (meaning ‘happy’) six months old. She was found wandering on her own and to this day seldom stops moving – a restless spirt. I managed to get quite a bit of video footage of her playing in the mud, wrestling with the others and playing in the mud pool. She is very playful and full of fun having been like this since she arrived.
That night I returned to the compound to see the orphans put to bed which is an extra, foster parents get to see. We all stood around the stables waiting. First the rhino was bought in and consumed a 6 gallon bucket of formula then you heard this rumble and round the corner at great speed trundles 9 little elephants all covered with their blanket tied on ready for bed. They shot into their stables with their individual keepers demanding their bottles of milk. Makena was being fed with her cuddly blanket on her head and with her back legs crossed. Unfortunately I could not see a lot of her as she was being filmed by British Airways for a documentary they were making as they are one of the sponsors for the Trust.
I went round the different stalls and talked to all the keepers who were setting up their beds for the night as they fed the babies every 2-3 hours or when the needs must. Makena could not settle and was very restless banging her trunk on her mat and rocking from side to side. Mekena’s stall is right next to the matriarch who has taken Makena under her wing. When she would not settle the older elephant (by one and a half years) put her trunk through the wooden slats and laid her trunk on Makena’s back and gave a low rumble to reasure her. The keepers all feel that her behaviour stems from the amount of searching she had done looking for her family when she was lost hence the blanket that she rubs her trunk with and sucks for comfort just like babies when they have a cuddly rug. Many of you will know what I mean!!! The keepers are hoping that with love and care the memory will fade.
To stroke and touch these little elephants is an amazing experience as they are so affectionate especially towards their keepers. Loijuk loves to touch and I saw him run his trunk gently all over his keepers face after his keeper had tickled him behind the ears and allowed him to suck his fingers. He kept grabbing my bangles and tried at one point to take my glasses twisting his trunk round my arm and giving it a good tug. They are really strong. I loved stroking the underside of their trunk as it is so soft and the fuzz of their head which is quite bristly.
Each baby has its own personality and it is only been by studying the elephants in the wild that Daphne Sheldrick has been able to realise the importance of 24 hour care needed for them to grow strong and survive. It has truly been an amazing experience and the amount of effort and love that is given to these little orphans has to be seen to be believed. If all children were given similar care – and it does not matter by who as long as it is consistent then I am sure many of our children would not be in such need of help today. I am hoping to be able to have one last visit before leaving Kenya when I return to Uganda. I do however get a monthly diary update on Makena’s progress so that will be something to look forward to.
There are more pictures of Makena here, along with more of Makena’s story…this is how lives get changed.