26 June 1999
This is a letter to many people: Emily Grove, Victoria Kerr, Laura Donovan, Andrew Breckinridge, Jason Hatfield, Kate Murphy, Paul Peterson, Ashely DeMoth, Amanda Chandler, Milan Kidd, Diana Webber, Renae Hux, Nicholas Williams, Chris Ring, and Ellen Wilcox.
I wish I could write to each one of you separately. Alas, I do not have the time. But I expect you understand. But I did want to thank you all for writing. (You will find it hard to read this, I'm in a small plane and it is very bumpy.) I am on my way back from Gombe to Dar es Salaam, then to UK. It was when I got to Dar 8 days ago that I found all your letters. When this arrives, school will be ended I suppose, but I hope this will catch up with you one day.
Your letters were, each one of them, very important to me. As some of you noted, it is exhausting, trailing around the world non-stop. BUT to get letters like the ones you wrote, telling me that the message I left with you that day did, indeed, make some impact on your lives, well, that is what makes it all worthwhile. (I'd also like to congratulate you all on how well you write and express yourselves. And congratulations to your teachers. You are an unusually articulate group of students!)
Gombe was wonderful. Even though I had to spend time with a film team, which is always very tedious. This is an IMAX film. The poor team had to carry this incredibly heavy equipment up and down steep, skiddy slopes, and through tangled undergrowth. They had been there 3 weeks. The stars of the film (so far) have been Gremlin and her family. Her brother, Gimble, the one survivor of Melissa's 1977 twins. Gremlin's eldest surviving son, Galahad, (11 yrs), daughter (6 yrs) Gaia and, of course, the twins --- those adorable 10 month old girls, Gold, or Goldie, and Glitta. Goldie is a determined person, and never gives up. Goldie has a charming white beard and a little unruly tuft of hair on the top of her head. Gaia adores them. Her idea of heaven is to hold, groom, or play with one or the other. (Very bumpy now!)
Fifi's infant --- Flirt, born same week as twins --- is twice as big. She gets double the milk I suppose. Also, Fifi always has big babies!
The film team will return next year to finish their work. They (me too) are praying that the twins will be okay. I can't wait to see the twins on the HUGE IMAX screens.
Also during the past two days, little groups of teachers (6 or 7 per group) have been led through the forest --- as far as the waterfall, up to the peak. There were 90 teachers from 85 schools, from 5 regions of Tanzania. This was the very first national Roots & Shoots teacher workshop. If you knew how hard it is to accomplish something like this, you'd realize what an amazing job my R&S coordinators have done. Yared could tell you. They even agreed to participate in the week-long workshop without "sitting" allowance, travel allowance, etc. They just got train tickets (those outside Kigoma region), food, and beds (in a secondary boarding school in Kigoma). Unheard of! All but 6 saw at least one chimp (extraordinarily lucky as each group had only 2 hours in forest). They visited our school, tree nurseries and agro-forestry projects. They learned how to use our new teacher manual. They had fun. Yesterday, their last day, I gave a talk. Then saw off those who had come by train --- lots of pant-hooting from compartment windows to platform and back. It will take them 2 days to get to Dar. We flew over their train just now! It is exciting to think how many students will benefit from that workshop. UNICEF was so impressed they are funding my people to put on a Regional workshop in September to include teachers from the sadly very large refugee camps in the areas. From Burundi and Eastern Zaire --- or the Democratic Republic of Congo as we should now call it --- though there is nothing remotely 'democratic' about Kabila. There is still a Rwandan camp as well.
Roots & Shoots is growing. Now, in addition to a lot of interest in China and Dubai, I think we've found a way of starting off in Russia -- and even Albania.
Anyway, I look forward, very much, to hearing what you all do in your Roots & Shoots clubs. The best part of my work is to hear what is going on. All the ideas and plans, and how they are fulfilled. All the ways the world is always being made a better place for all life, for all individuals.
I hope you have/have had (depending on when you get this) a wonderful summer vacation.
Follow your dreams, work hard, have FUN.
Excerpted from BEYOND INNOCENCE (c) Copyright 2001 by Jane Goodall, edited by Dale Peterson. Reprinted with permission by Houghton Mifflin Company. Not for reprint without permission.