The Garamba Park Rangers

In the week after our March for Elephants and Rhinos in Vancouver, there was a terrible incident in the Garamba Park in the Congo.  Park Rangers who were tracking the collar of an elephant were ambushed by members of the Lords Resistance Army. The helicopter that brought them into the area, returned and dropped a sling, rescuing most of the rangers, before its rotor was destroyed by bullet fire. Sadly, four men were left behind and were killed.  They are survived by their wives and fourteen children.

After paying expenses, our group, Elephanatics, had raised a small amount of money from our efforts during our march - the selling of T shirts, umbrellas and cards and from many donations.  At a recent meeting, Dr. Jake Wall, one of our founding members, suggested that we consider making a contribution to the families of the four Garamba Rangers who died.  We were all pleased to take this initiative and with Jake's help, a connection was made with the Garamba Park.  In addition, we are building up that fund through GoFundMe Garamba Rangers.  Our hope is that the money we can send to these people in the Congo will demonstrate our concern for them and their loved ones who are putting their lives on the line to protect the elephants.  Hopefully this will also be a message of encouragement for those rangers who may feel they have been forgotten by the rest of the world. You can find out more aboaut this at Rangers Fund
If you can, please find the Garamba Rangers on GoFundMe and make a donation that can bring a message of comfort and warmth to these families.

Today is Pearl Harbour Day, widely recognized as a turning point in World War Two.  It is also the 24th anniversary of the funeral service for my dear father, Don Thomas.  He would have been 99 this year! His suffering at the end of his life is always with me, and I am always overcome by sadness and tearfulness at this time of year - it is what I do while others are busily shopping and getting ready for Christmas.  

I know I am not alone in feeling sadness at this time.  December 6, yesterday, was the 26th anniversary of the assasination of young women who were students in Montreal at Ecole Polytechnique, murdered by a man who felt that women had no place in a professional world.  John Lennon was shot December 8, 1980.  And, of course, the children who were murdered at Sandy Hook in 2012 have been joined by the workers in California this past week in death.  The list of those who were innocent victims of evil is far too long.  Now we have many refugees who need help as they try to escape evil.  

Such a justaposition of grief with celebration at this time of year - when we are supposed to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus - if we are Christians.  But this meaning of Christmas has lost a lot, hasn't it? Without getting into the long list of reasons why this season has been coopted by all other less worthy activities, it is a time to reflect on what has happened in this past year, on what we believe in our hearts, and a time to work even harder to be thankful for what is around us, to care for our loved ones and let them know our love.  And it is a time to look again and again at the beauty of the world that is at our feet, to reach out to try to keep wildlife safe, to care for the animals who make our lives brighter.  Very often it is harder to remember the good things - but they are there!