October 16, 2019   1:06pm
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Africa! What a trip …

Africa … what a trip! Here’s the good news …

Okay. I can’t resist. It’s just not possible to return from an amazing trip to Africa and not fill you in on at least a few impressions:

First, the women in Rwanda simply blew me away. Through a 14-years ago genocide (almost 1 million dead over 3 months), poverty and more barriers than any American could begin to imagine, they have rallied together to get a shocked and battered nation going again. Women (and men) we met were joyful, confident, full of warmth, and enthusiastic supporters for their country and its future. One organization in Kigali we visited Women for Women International truly deserves your attention. For as little as $324 a year you can sponsor a “sister,” who will be trained on a one-to-one basis in skills that enable her to move forward, positively impacting her family and community as well.

Also in Rwanda, there are the gorillas. As you trek up the volcano through steep hills, mud and nettles, you pass a full bush of greenery only to be taken by complete surprise as you practically stumble upon a gorilla family – the mom holding her newborn tightly in her arms, the kids literally rolling head over heels together down an embankment, and the Silverback (dad) eating bamboo shoots as he watches protectively nearby.

A Reminder: humans are the only animals that kill for sport, theft and war rather than for food to survive. With a gorilla family of 9 being murdered by poachers last year, you have to protect these amazing gentle vegetarian creatures (forget King Kong) who are, after all, just a few DNA degrees away from being us. You can learn more about these wonderful mountain gorillas by going to: World Wildlife Foundation where you can “adopt” a gorilla family for as little as $25.00.

In Capetown, South Africa, an amazing accomplishment is taking place. It’s AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Science which is focused on finding and educating the “Next Einstein.” AIMS is the dream become reality of a South African theoretical physicist, education activist and TED prize-winner Neal Turok. He’s created a university experience with scholarships, food, housing, and a post-graduate cross-mathematical curriculum with access to some of the world’s best teachers. This is for exceptionally bright young Africans who have been thwarted by war and circumstance and can now get the education they hunger for and deserve. After only 4 years, more than 50 of these students have gone on to some of the world’s most prestigious universities, counting Cambridge and Oxford among them. When you meet these students (as we did), you can only marvel at their determination and resilience. Companies are jumping on board to sponsor an AIMS student at $10,000 a year ($5000 for half); Barclays has been particularly generous. Maybe you know a company who would be interested?

Ahhh — and one more thing I learned and helpfully pass on. Never again pack bags to cover every occasion. After your luggage has been lost for two weeks, you learn to live with two pairs of pants, two sweaters, a pair of loafers and your husband’s underwear. You also learn how freed up you are by not having to make a decision about what to wear every day. And, given the circumstances all the above are coping with, it seems we’re awfully lucky just to think of clothing options as a worry at all.

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