April, 2021 Update
What a trip we had to Elephant Havens last month! I would love to tell you how hard Scott and I worked, but that just wouldn’t be true. I can honestly say I had the most relaxing trip and just enjoyed our team and little elephants this time. No hard decisions, elephants all healthy, no construction to oversee. I had no idea it could be so peaceful.
Every morning, just as the sun was rising, I was at the elephant bomas to give the little ones special love before they went out on their daily forage around the property. The two little boys, Mofalodi and Sandy, seemed to love the morning attention. Both of them would be sucking my fingers—one on each hand. The joy!
The handlers did the hard work of cleaning their enclosures every morning, which I learned is a bonding exercise. The elephants learn that our handlers are there for them to make them comfortable and cared for. They also pile fresh sand for the babies to sleep on. Some of them just can’t resist it and dive face first into the freshly piled sand.
After the cleaning they get a treat of fresh fruit and game pellets, and the gates are left open for them to start the day foraging. Although their enclosures are next to each other, it is such a treat to watch them greet each other every morning with trunks entwined, making all the loud rumbling sounds. These babies love each other and all of their caregivers.
I also want to report that Sandy, who used to only drink his milk formula out of a bucket, is now a lover of his bottle. Once I had him sucking on my finger I knew I could do it. I told Bee to make a bottle for me and it was magic. I now have the title of Elephant Whisperer. You should hear Sandy screaming with happiness when he sees his bottle now. They get their bottles every three hours around the clock, and I don’t think there is anything that excites them more.
There were times when I stood under the beautiful trees surrounded by baby elephants and just couldn’t believe how this dream has actually turned into reality. Elephant Havens is truly a place of joy where there is singing and dancing and lots of elephant kisses.
We could not say this without all of you. What we have done together is truly amazing and I want to thank every one of you for your help. Whether through donations or just encouragement, you have all played a big part in making this happen. Together we will continue to grow, and years from now I believe we will remember the days that Elephant Havens was just a dream, a hope.
There is also some great community news I’m so happy to share. I knew the school bus was needed, but I had no idea what an impact it would have. Our team, who are now also bus drivers, do four school runs in the morning and four in the afternoon. So many thanks again to our donor for the bus donation!
Now to the laws of unintended consequences—this one is positive. I had no idea that many children had dropped out of school because of the dangerous walk. We have had so many children return to school because of the bus that the school is now overcrowded and holds some classes outside! One of our new wishes is to get some large tents for the school so the children will be protected from the weather.
We also learned that there are children who can’t go to school because they don’t have the funds to buy the needed uniforms. If you are interested in helping with this project, the uniforms only cost $50 and that includes shoes. We can even have the uniforms made locally which will provide more jobs for the community.
Wouldn’t it also be great to provide some computers for the school so the children can learn computer skills at an early age? For under $1,000 each, we can get desktop computers. Your donations can help us with this wish, too.
I find it exhilarating to think of the small acts that can completely change someone’s life. When you dream, it can happen—so let’s keep dreaming of ways to make lives better for the people of the local community.
With much gratitude,
Debra and Scott