terça-feira, 28 de julho de 2009

Email written by Gabriel to his family

This is an email Gabriel wrote to his family on the 1st of June 2009. This will help you to understand the wonderful young man he is...and a few reasons why we will NOT give up on finding him alive.

Dearest mom, girlfriend and João, my top partners in this amazing backpacking trip, my dearest little sister,
After more than a week of a full-on experience into the heart of Africa, I’ve found this cyber café in Jinha, countryside of Uganda, just in front of river Nile…to I write you to say that I am truly overwhelmed and life is wonderfully good!
My days in Africa have been absolutely fantastic!!! After spending a few days in the house of a refugee from Congo in Nairobi, don’t ask me how I ended up in the remote village of the masais in Kenya, where I spent days running after giraffes, zebras and antilopes carrying on a spade and arrow. I was having a truly tribal experience, sleeping in these people houses and all that….oh, and among all my adventures in Kenya, I ended in style! I did a bike safari with my masai friend in a stunning national park…
So I’m preety roots here, walking for a week wrapped up in one of those colorful pieces of fabric, carrying on a stick of wood and a steal spade…all I know is that since I’ve arrived in Africa I haven’t seen ANY muzumgo (white man), besides myself…

Oh, by the way, in the middle of all that today I sent a child to school!!! It’s a long story, but to keep it simple, after spending a whole day walking around a small village in Uganda with a boy that, among other things, introduced me to his family, which lives in totally misery, and then for coincidence I went visiting this public school and was talking to the director, so I decided I would pay the enrollment fee and all the expenses so that this boy could go to the school until the end of the year…

The best about being in Africa is that only here I can travel the way I’ve always dreamt. Today for the second time I stayed at a hostel since I arrived in this continent, all other days I stayed and had meals with the locals, spending less than 3 dollars a day, which has allowed me to distribute the rest of my daily allowance among those who helped me along the way by feeding me or by receiving me in their homes. I am overwhelmed to live such adventure...making a real journey into the heart of Africa, a totally non-touristy one, in a sustainable way, being able to help a few Africans on the way...here with almost nothing you can make a huge difference in people’s lives...for instance with only 12 dollars I paid my friend’s rent in Congo for the whole month. With only 40 dollars I paid for one year of such a cool school for this other boy....

I could write for hours and hours about this first week in Africa, I am truly overwhelmed, this is all beyond my best expectations…but I’m writing just to say hello, because this night I took 4 different boats to cross a river from Kenya to Uganga, then I spent the whole day visiting farmers, schools, etc, all in this very remote village in the middle of nowhere in Ugana…I’ve met incredible people along the way and each day these people will introduce me to new people…and with each of these connections I go slowly diving into the heart of Africa…I’ve really created an incredible network of people around here.

Next week, after paying homage to the genocide victims in Ruanda and god-knows-what in Burundi, I will visit a diamond mine and a pigmeu community in the Congolese jungle together with the brother of a friend, then I’m off to a refugee camp in Tanzania where the uncle of another friend lives, to see if I can find an affordable way to climb Kilimanjaro…and then I will wait my gorgeous Cris to arrive in Dar es Salaam to yet another incredible honeymoon.

Ok, one paragraph about my two best friends in Kenya.

Alex Alembe. He was doing the last year of engineering in Uvira, his hometown in Congo. One night a group of men invaded his house. They killed his mother and his youngest sister, but he scaped through the window. He ended up in a refugee camp in Tanzania, where he stayed for 4 years, married a Tanzanian and had three kids. He moved to the outskirts of Nairobi where he spent the last years bringing gold and diamonds from Congo and selling them in other countries of East Africa. He managed to build a comfortable house for his family and several orphan kids. In the way back from one of these trips, he was stolen in the bus, they took everything he had, suitcase, money, diamonds, passport. He lost everything. He moved with all his family to a 12 square meter house. Despite all this shit, he carries on with 3 social projects, giving breakfast to 20 kids every day, helping the widows victims of Aids and organizing a football match every afternoon. He is saving saving whatever he can to run as a local mp in Congo in the next election.
TIA. This is Africa.

Leonard. He is a Massai who’s mother received me at her house in Itwatso Ogindong. He was doing the last year on administration at the university of Nairobi. After three years of a dry season in the massai land, he had to quit university to bring the catlle belonging to his family in search of a better place, where they find some grass. He walked 500km in 8 days, conducting 100 animals, crossing cities, including the Nairobi airport! He struggles to preserve the massai culture and dreams to marry an American woman, preferably fat. He baptized me with a massai name, Lemaya. His brother Brain, 20, is highly respected in their tribe. At the age of 14, he killed a lion and therefore was seen as a mature man. When he was 15, he married a 12 year-old girl, and another one, 13. His parents chose both. He gave me his spade as a souvenir.
TIA. This is Africa.

Gotta go now.
Mom, sorry I haven’t called for so long. Will do my best to call you from Kampala tomorrow. Cris, will write you in a while….
Johnny, enjoy Russia brother! Russia Haracho! Russia Kracivaia!


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