It started with a dream in fifth grade, “Someday,” Linda said to herself, “I am going to get myself over to Africa.” Her teacher had told the kids in her class stories of that distant land and the thought of all the wildlife: monkeys, elephants, giraffes, and you name it, and the mysterious jungle itself, fueled her heart and imagination.
The years passed, life happened, Linda Salvi became the Pauline Books & Media customer service representative, and the dream went on the back burner. That is, until the day she got to joking around with her younger daughter Lisa. “Why don’t we just adopt a baby elephant. We could keep him in the back yard. The neighbors won’t notice. Why not?”
Soon enough the joke led to a bit of research, and they learned that indeed, you could adopt a baby elephant. Help was needed to care for young elephants orphaned by poachers, left stranded in wells, or suffering the effects of other man-made phenomenon. There were actually “nurseries” that cared for these animals, always with the intent to release them back into the wild as soon as it was wise to do so. The one drawback: they would have to adopt them on location, so no baby elephants in the back yard!
Undeterred, they signed up to adopt an elephant in Kenya at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, but not just one, they adopted 10 elephants and a rhino!
Becoming more and more familiar with the efforts to save these beautiful animals, it wasn’t before long that Linda, with her two daughters, Lisa (the elephant-lover) and Andrea (an actual zookeeper), decided they had to see everything up close, including the elephant babies they had adopted. They arrived in February 2016.
“We went to Kenya, not knowing what to expect,” Linda reminisced, “we were going into the unknown.” Her eyes shone as she continued, “When we got there, we fell in love with the country, the people.” I prodded her further, “What did you like most about Africa?” She stopped a moment and then continued, “For me it is the rawness of it all. It is so vast, untamed. When I was there, I never felt so connected to God as I did in that place. You can see God’s handiwork everywhere.”
She grew pensive reflecting back on what she had experienced, for it was hard to describe. “When we went on safari, the guide would teach us to look up in the trees to see a cheetah or leopard, when we saw one he would exclaim, ‘Look at that, isn’t that beautiful? God be praised.’ It’s a place where the people are so aware of God’s presence and blessing.”
Linda also described some of the wonders of the beautiful Kenyan plains, the people she had met, the Kazuri Bead Factory started by single moms to support their families and the needs the people have for all sorts of things we take for granted. “When we left the country, we left anything they could use, we left clothing, some of our shoes and sneakers, any unopened lotions and wipes, all sorts of things that would be helpful.”
This September, Linda, Andrea and Lisa will be returning to Kenya. Linda is bringing coloring books from Pauline Books & Media: We Thank God for the younger children and Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy coloring & activity books for the older ones. They will be distributed to children in various villages and the school at Masai Mara. Their safari guide James, a Masai chief himself, has assured her that the children will be delighted.
Her suitcases will be very full on the way over to Africa and she knows these gifts can be a blessing for the people they reach. Africa has been a gift from God to her, a dream come true. Now she returns and hopes to give back.
We ask you to accompany Linda and her daughters in prayer as they make this trip and reach out to give something of the Catholic faith to the people while they are there. We’ll be posting pictures from the trip. Make sure to follow the journey with Pauline Books & Media!