May 2016 – Our Lady of the Angels Province friar,
Fr. Timothy Kulbicki, OFM Conv.
visited with the St. Maximilian M. Kolbe Province (India). Please click on this photo to read their June-July Newsletter featuring more information on Friar Tim’s visit.
Friar Tim’s post on the events from May 16, 201
I left on Saturday, April 9, 2016 for Croatia; a nine-hour trip by car (Florence, Bologna, Padua, Venice, Trieste, Ljubljana [Slovenia], finally Zagreb). On Sunday we slept in, toured Zagreb a bit, and then got back in the car to go to the retreat house where the meeting would take place: an old 16th Century castle rebuilt in the 19th Century and given to a group of sisters, who built a more modern retreat house on the grounds. I presented on the Constitutions of the Order, on Monday morning, then listened in on my confrere talk about foreign missions in the afternoon. After supper the Croatian friars organized an old-fashioned singalong, with free-flowing slivovitz (plum vodka). Tuesday I relaxed while the Croatians were in business meetings. Tuesday evening we went back to Zagreb for Mass. Our church in Zagreb is noted for its St. Anthony devotions, which they do on the 13 Tuesdays preceding his feast on June 13. The church was packed to overflowing, with about 200 people standing indoors and another 100 standing outside on the steps. The Cardinal Archbishop presided, with of course a big dinner afterwards. On Wednesday morning the business meetings finished, and we celebrated the 50th anniversary of two of the Croatian friars, another big Mass and meal. Big meals in Croatia means lots of pig (sausages, hams, smoked bacon), with slivovitz beforehand, then with more slivovitz afterwards to help break down the pig fat.
That afternoon we headed out to do some tourism in Istria, a peninsula at the top of the Adriatic which belonged to the Venetian Republic until the 19th Century; then to Austria-Hungary until WWI; then Italy until WWII; then Yugoslavia until it fell apart in 1991; and finally Croatia. We went to Pula (Italian Pola), a small seaport and very ancient city with a still-extant smaller 2nd Century version of the Colosseum and an ancient Roman forum. Our Franciscan church is a lovely Romanesque/early Gothic jewel from the late 13th Century, happily original and untouched by Baroque. Istria is full of lovely scenery, soaring hills overlooking bright blue water, scarcely populated and quite cheap since Croatia is not on the Euro. On Friday we went to Poreč (Parenzo in Italian), which has a stunning and almost wholly intact 6th Century cathedral complex, the Euphrasian Basilica, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Then nine hours again in the car, to get home around midnight.
On the following Sunday I preached a Day of Recollection at a nearby General Curia, and then spent the next couple weeks prepping my next set of talks, doing Guardian work, and compiling the responses from the friars on Chapter III of the Constitutions.
I left on Friday April 29 for India, flying on Emirates Airways, stopping in Dubai on the way to Cochi. The stopover in Dubai was at 3AM, but everything was open and bustling. Dubai has become a stopover for long-haul flights from Europe/Africa to Asia with a huge airport shopping complex. You see no Emiratis working, only Indian and Filipino guest workers. There are also no Emiratis who work on their airline; they boast that each flight crew has at least 12 nationalities and 18 languages.
Cochi is an old trading city in the Indian state of Kerala, which lies along its southwestern coast. According to Wikipedia, it is among the most developed and economically advanced of the Indian states, but the development seems very uneven, with modern shopping complexes literally right down the street from shacks. The friars tell me that anyone from Kerala who completes his/her education looks for an overseas position whenever possible. Kerala is also the most Christian part of India (18%), with the belief that Christianity was first brought to this coast by the Apostle Thomas. Catholics are divided into three different rites: Syro-Malabar, the largest in the area, with an east-Syriac liturgy; the Latin rite, which is ours; and the Syro-Malankar, with a west-Syriac liturgy. There are also substantial numbers of Orthodox: Syrian Orthodox, the counterpart to the Syro-Malabar Catholics, and Syrian Jacobites, the counterpart to the Syro-Malankar Catholics. In addition, there are some Anglicans left from the British Empire, and some American-style evangelicals. The majority religion is Hindu, with Islam in second place.
Our friars are Syro-Malabar, though all are bi-ritual and the Latin rite is used almost exclusively in-house. The Syro-Malabar liturgy is completely sung in the spoken language of Malayam, with long chants in dialogue between the priest, the choir, and several assistants. Everything used to be in Syriac until Vatican II. In addition, each diocese adapts the Syro-Malabar liturgy differently. The most traditional celebrate Eucharist behind a red curtain (functioning like a Greek or Russian iconostasis); moderate dioceses use a free-standing altar but facing away from the people; our friars’ diocese use a free-standing altar and face the people. In any case, they are very western in devotions, using rosaries, stations of the cross, and many western saints like Anthony of Padua. Additionally, worship is done barefoot, with men and women on separate sides of the church. I concelebrated twice in Syro-Malabar, following the other priests’ leads as to when to extend my hand and saying the words quietly in English. The priest’s vestments are a western-style alb with a stole; a decorative belt; decorative half-sleeves; and a cope instead of a chasuble. Liturgy started with an adaptation of lighting a Hindu-style standing lamp filled with coconut oil. At one of these liturgies three friars professed their solemn vows.
I spent most of my time at the Provincial Offices in Karakutty, outside Cochin, which has a retreat house on its grounds and a public church, not a parish. There are 8 friars living there, with a number in residence waiting for visas, etc for new assignments. Starting Sunday May 1, I presented to the friars (c. 50) for 3 ½ days on the Constitutions, 3 conferences a day plus homilies. The conferences went very well, as far as I can tell. I spoke in English, trying to be slow and non-idiomatic, because of different accents and their basically British English. On Thursday May 5, following the first set of conferences, they organized an outing to Alapuzha for a day-trip on a rented houseboat. Kerala has hundreds of miles of inland waterways and lakes, which are developed for tourism, day trips, and water activities. On Friday May 6 until Monday May 9 I presented to the friars under 5 years ordained (c. 20), again 3 conferences a day plus homilies, this time on what Franciscan history can teach about continuing formation. Again the conferences went very well, as far as I can tell, with more discussion than in the larger group.
On the afternoon of May 9 we set out to visit the novitiate. What should have been a 5-hour car ride turned into a 7 ½ hour nightmare trip of bad roads and traffic congestion; Indian roads do not provide for highway bypasses of cities, so periodically the 2-lane highways dumps you into an overly congested downtown with no discernible road signs. The road trip taught me something graphic about India: there are 23 official languages! English and Hindi are more or less common, and the other 21 are each based roughly on the separate Indian states. Thus, when we passed from Kerala to the next state of Tamil Nadu, the language changed, the alphabet on the road signs changed, and even the physiognomy of the population changed!
We arrived at the novitiate in Kotagiri (photo 8) at 9PM, where the friars had prepared a chicken barbecue for us. The novitiate is located 7500 feet above sea level, so the temperature was pleasantly in the 60’s, after the near-100 with high humidity in Kerala. There are 10 novices who have just begun their novitiate. The novices come from various places in India, meaning various cultures and languages, and are beginning a common novitiate in English, after a common postulancy in English, and minor seminary in their own languages plus working on English. The novitiate is in the middle of a 10 acre tea plantation, which the novices work, together with a small farm. Food is the major expense in India, and therefore all the friaries try to have a working farm to keep expenses down.
After spending the night at Kotagiri, we left the next afternoon for home, stopping on the way to visit a friary in Rottikaundanur, which serves a clinic for AIDS patients, mostly orphaned children but also patients whose families have abandoned them. There is still quite a bit of social stigma involving AIDS, and the friars need to remain very discreet. The return trip home, I experienced a foretaste of “the wet”: drenching buckets of rain for over two hours, that taught me the meaning of “monsoon”.
The next morning we visited the seminary at Aluva. There are approximately 30 friars in formation here, mostly in philosophy. The Indian Province is concentrating the study of philosophy here (3 years), and then dividing the theologians into different states to learn the local languages better. They carry twenty credits per semester, all in the morning. Afternoons are spent 90 minutes in manual labor, 60 minutes in sports, and the rest of the time in prayer and study. They rise at 5AM; no personal computers (a common computer room) and no personal cell phones. Many are very artistically talented, with lots of wall murals and incredibly detailed chapel decorations.
It was altogether an incredible experience. The friars were incredibly hospitable and solicitous, especially regarding food. They were amazed that I ate everything they did, with no special accommodations (breakfast: rice pancakes/rice dumplings with mild curry sauce; tropical fruit, including several types of bananas, mango, papaya, jackfruit, and pomegranate); (lunch: white or fried rice; small pieces of meat, poultry or fish on the bone in a pungent curry; more mildly seasoned vegetables; tropical fruit); (dinner: leftover rice, plus flour tortillas or boiled cassava or tapioca, plus the curry, vegetables, and fruit). The Indian custom is to eat with your hands, which I did for the meat and fish bits, but used a fork or spoon for the rest. I kept to bottled or boiled water, including for brushing teeth.
Vocations remain abundant, and the friars seem to be quite discerning in their formation. They are expanding, with delegations already in Andra Pradesh and Sri Lanka (two different languages and cultures), plus plans to start at least two other foundations in different states. Their major difficulty is finances: since we are late to arrive in Kerala (only 25 years), and everyone is receiving vocations in a small minority population, the ecclesiastical infrastructure does not provide easy income streams. Their foundations outside of Kerala include private schools, which in the Indian context are income-producers for the Church. They also lend their friars to work with other friars in places where vocations are tight (United States, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, and soon Canada). Once again, the experience of the enthusiasm of many young friars looking towards an expanding future contrasts with the ecclesial experience of Europe and North America to which I am accustomed. God is good, the brotherhood truly is a brotherhood wherever you go, and a wider perspective is always a wiser and more hopeful one.
Till next time.
Post from November 8, 2015
Greetings! I just got back today from Indonesia.
I left Rome on Friday, October 30th, at 11:00 a.m., and arrived in Medan, Indonesia at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.
Indonesia is the most populous (about 250 million) majority-Muslim nation in the world with 86% Muslim, 6% Protestant, 3% Catholic, the rest scattered Hindus and Buddhists. While there is official freedom of religion, at the popular level there is scattered discrimination against Christians, generally involving permits to buy land or build, and occasional violence (some Christian buildings were attacked the week before I arrived). One Indonesian region, Bandar Aceh, has permission from the national government to enforce Sharia law locally. In the area where I visited, in and around the city of Medan (Indonesia’s fourth-largest, with 4 ½ million people in the metropolitan area), on the island of Sumatra, about half the women wore purely secular clothes, while the other half wore head-coverings, with a few in full burkhas. Neighborhoods tend to be majority one or the other: you either see a mosque every 100 yards or so, or Christian churches and bars with signs advertising the sale of beer. Hard liquor is only officially available in up-scale restaurants, but I’m told if you know someone and know where to ask, alcohol is all over the place, much like the United States in the 1920’s.
I was picked up at the airport and drove about an hour to our friary in Delitua, a suburb of Medan. It’s a large friary with 14 friars stationed there in two adjoining buildings, which look like 1950’s era American cheap motels. It is the Custodial headquarters and a parish of 20,000 parishioners scattered in 53 outstations; the friars also administer and teach in the adjoining diocesan undergraduate program in religious studies, while others work in the Archdiocesan Tribunal and Chancery. The archdiocese was founded by Dutch Capuchins and even today the vast majority of priests in the archdiocese belong to religious communities. The main parish church celebrates one Eucharist each Sunday, with about 1000-1200 participants, while 9-10 other friars each hop on motor scooters or SUV’s to celebrate Eucharist in each of two outstations. Therefore, most outstations celebrate two out of three priest-less Sundays… I concelebrated the main parish Mass on Sunday November 1 (see photo): excellent congregational singing and widespread participation in Eucharist. The only inculturations were the use of a large gong at consecration, and the widespread practice (obligatory for altar servers) to leave shoes at the door and worship barefoot out of respect.
After resting and getting over jet-lag, on Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday I presented to leaders of the friars in Asia: three provinces (Japan, Korea, India), two custodies (Indonesia, Philippines), and three missions (China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka). The presentations were updating and background on the issues regarding the Constitutions. Asia is the most complicated of all the conferences of the Order: there is no unifying culture; there is no common language (everyone more or less understands English, but English is only really spoken in India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines; to work on the Constitutions the Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese have to translate into their own languages, while all the Chinese muddle through in Italian), the distances are daunting (all the Asian friars had at least 5-hour flights to arrive in Indonesia) and virtually all the friars (except the Filipinos) work in cultures in which Christianity is a distinct minority. Yet, I was deeply impressed by the friars’ sense of commitment to the Order, their willingness to tackle difficult tasks (for most of them this involves finding funds for formation of young friars) and their enjoyment of one another.
We celebrated that evening by going out to dinner.. We started with a variety of excellent dim sum dumplings, spring rolls, and barbecued chicken feet. The main course was two huge communal woks cooked at table: one contained chicken broth, chicken meatballs, and bok choy, while the other contained fish broth with chunks of fish, sweet potato, various types of mushrooms and some unidentifiable but tasty greens.
By the way, Indonesian food … I experienced in our friaries on Sumatra… is fairly spicy and quite repetitive:…sticky white rice; some kind of grilled fish (for breakfast, deep-fried anchovies and sautéed tofu balls); some kind of boiled greens; fresh juices; and tropical fruit with lots of varieties of bananas and papaya, with several fruits that neither I nor any of the non-Indonesians had ever seen before. Regarding other basic issues: running water which was not drinkable; no hot water; electricity that blacked out at least once a day; and indoor toilets – some of which worked well, others of which were provided with vats of water and a scooper to force flush, a few of which were just holes cut into floor slabs, where one squats and then dumps water.
The next day the whole group took a day trip to visit the formation house at Tiga Juhar, a community of 8 solemnly professed friars, 6 novices, and 30 postulants (see photo). The friars also have a parish of 3000 parishioners scattered into 15 outstations, and administer the town’s water supply. The Italian missionaries drilled wells and constructed underground reservoirs. The friars prepared a great feast for us, which included all of the above and a selection of meats: roast suckling pig, stewed dog, stewed wild mountain goat, and grilled snake (yes, I tried them all; the goat was tough meat). In the afternoon we went to some hot springs which filled an ancient volcanic crater, but as we were ready to get in, a 3-hour monsoon hit. We sloshed through the mud after a while to get back to the SUV’s, and I was fearful of either snakes or leeches.
On Thursday friar Gabriel, who works with me on the Constitutions, picked me up to show me around. We started at the construction site of their new novitiate (in the middle of nowhere, as novitiates should be, with rooms for 20 novices); visited Lake Toba, a large volcanic lake developed as a vacation area, on the road to which I saw groups of two different kinds of wild monkeys; and then spent the night at the friary in Pematangsiantar, where Gabriel is the Guardian and the director of 29 students.
The next morning we visited the local seminary where our friars study, together with Capuchins and diocesan seminarians, and then headed to our friary in Bandar Baru, another community of 8 friars who run a parish of 6,000 parishioners and 23 outstations; a high-school seminary for 17; a middle school/high school for 900; a live-in residence for 200; and an orphanage of 60, all surrounded by a working farm and fish ponds to feed them all.
Finally, on Saturday we visited our friary in Padang Bulan, another suburb of Medan, with a simply lovely neo-Romanesque stone church that looks like it was stolen from northern Italy. There six friars have a parish of 8000 parishioners, with six outstations. Gabriel took me to a Javanese restaurant for a farewell meal, to give me a taste of a different Indonesian island, much less spicy and much less meat. We started with lumpia (similar to spring rolls) and sesame-coated tofu balls, each with their own dipping sauce. For a main course I had barbecued calamari, and we shared three vegetables: bok choy with garlic; unidentified cold vegetable mix with a brown sauce; and lightly fried unidentified vegetable that looked like zucchini but had more taste. To drink I had a juice of limes and cucumbers.
Then, off to the airport in Medan (through simply horrible traffic that makes Roman traffic look civilized) for an 1-hour flight to Singapore, followed by a three hour layover. Our 13-hour flight left Singapore at 1:00 a.m. local time and arrived in Rome at 7:00 a.m. local time next day (this morning).
Aside from the experience of the Asian leaders (whom I had met two years ago in Seoul), I was most impressed by the fact that the Indonesian friars are committed to large friaries, since they get the fact that if they go smaller they will lose their religious identity and become diocesan parish priests who occasionally wear habits. They were also incredibly hospitable and welcoming. Finally, they were all interested in what the Order is doing elsewhere in the world. I had really positive vibes about them. They are large enough to become a province at the next General Chapter, if they can come up with a plan to provide long-term financial planning for formation. Once again, the experience of lots of young(er) friars with a great spirit of initiative fills me with hope for the future and a renewed commitment to solidarity.
Post from June 21, 2015
I returned on Sunday June 21 (2015) from Uganda after preaching a retreat to half of our friars in East Africa (Custody of Kenya of the Gdansk Province; Custody of Tanzania of the Warsaw Province; Delegation of Uganda of the Cracow Province); I had preached to the other half in Kenya in January.
I arrived in Kampala at 10PM on Sunday June 14, after waking at 3AM that morning in La Vigna. I arrived at our friary in Matugga at midnight. Matugga is a parish with a school and some outstations in a small town outside the capital Kampala. There are two friars there, one on loan from Kenya. They recently completed building the friary and the school, and are now in the midst of building a larger church, since attendance has dramatically increased in recent years, due both to the service of the friars and to internal migration closer to the capital.
The next afternoon we headed to the retreat house in Namugongo, approximately 90 minutes away. The retreat house is located very near the National Shrine of the Ugandan Martyrs, to which we made a pilgrimage. The basilica church is built upon the site of the martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga, with the altar directly over his grave. June 3, the martyrs’ feastday, is a national holiday in Uganda, and every year some 1-2 million pilgrims converge on the Basilica and its grounds around that date to celebrate with the Ugandan episcopate. Nearby is the Anglican Martyrs’ Shrine, which we also visited, where a majority of the 45 martyrs (young male pages of the Ugandan king, recent converts, 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic) were executed, most by being wrapped in leaves and burnt alive.
When the retreat finished on Saturday morning, we drove an hour to Kakooge, the first friary of the delegation. It is a rural mission parish with 14 outstations. The mission compound is surrounded by over ten acres, which the friars have developed into a pine tree farm. The mission compound contains the friary, the church, a school, a small rural hospital built by the friars, and a residential trade school whose two-year program completes Ugandan high school equivalency with what amounts to an American technical diploma in carpentry, metal work, and design. There are three friars there, including the guardian Bogusz, whom the friars might remember from preaching mission appeals last summer.
After lunch we drove about 2 hours to the friars’ newest venture, Munyono on the edge of Kampala. Munyono was the seat of the royal palace at the time of the martyrs, where all the martyrs were initially arrested and imprisoned. Three were actually executed and buried there. Recently the Archbishop of Kampala entrusted ten acres to the friars, to be developed as another shrine in the region of the capital. The land sits on rolling hillsides overlooking Lake Victoria. The two friars (who live in a small rented apartment nearby) have already constructed a small open-walled pavilion, where they celebrate daily and weekend Eucharist; already steady crowds at Sunday Eucharist are c.300. They plan to lay the foundation of the church as soon as possible, with the hope that Pope Francis will bless the cornerstone during his apostolic visit in November. Future plans include a friary large enough to serve as a house of formation (currently East Africa does one year of postulancy in Tanzania, one in Kenya, novitiate in Tanzania, philosophy in Lusaka, Zambia, and theology in Nairobi, Kenya) and a retreat center. The provincial delegate is also rector of the shrine in Munyono, as well as federation representative responsible for initial formation throughout all of Africa.
It was extremely edifying for me to see the zeal, growth, vigor, sense of initiative, and risk-taking on the part of our friars, and the enthusiastic response both of the laity and the episcopacy to our charism. It does me proud and gives me lots of hope.
Post from January 16, 2015
Novitiate (Tanzania – Friary in Arusha): …I started (by) teaching Franciscan History, five hours a day to novices; nine of them from Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Incidentally, the Novitiate, for three small and new African jurisdictions has more novices than its counterpart in the United States, which provides service for the four US Provinces, as well as for Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and Ireland .. (and) … five times the number of professed friars. This is where the Order is growing. The Novice Director and his Assistant are both (from Poland), with a third Tanzanian friar (working) as Pastor of the local parish. These young men (in formation) are smart and engaged, like sponges soaking up whatever I could tell them, and full of insightful and difficult questions. They (are)… open and creative …. They also live much more simply (than their US counterparts), with no Internet, frequent electrical outages, hot water only sometimes in the evenings when the solar panels are working well. The food is very simple: bread and fruit for breakfast, and lunch and supper were the same every day: some kind of bland starch (rice or polenta) topped with beans and spinach or a few slivers of meat with vegetables; most of the food they grow on their own farm. They pray a lot … very heartfelt. The liturgy is in English, but they inculturate traditional hymns like Come Holy Ghost with bongos, tambourines, mariachis, and some … instrument that seemed to be a sealed washboard with beans inside it that you shake to rhythm…. I celebrated Mass for them every day at 6AM, which was accompanied either by hauntingly beautiful harmonized chants in Swahili, or wild Swahili songs of joy with all the percussion accompaniment. On New Years Day I went to the local parish for Mass in Swahili, which included a half-hour dancing offertory procession, bringing up bananas, toilet paper, dish-washing liquid, and bags of cornmeal, for the poor. The hymns in Swahili were also accompanied by old women ululating; trust me, it is more beautiful and worshipful than it sounds.
Nairobi: …I arrived at the headquarters friary, much nicer with better amenities than Arusha, but still quite simple. Here we have a large parish plus administrative offices. The neighborhood in Nairobi (called South C) is full of ex-Somali pirates; incidentally in both places we are next door to mosques, whose muezzins woke me every day at 5:15AM. I celebrated Sunday parish Mass in English at 11AM, with the expectation of a 20 minute homily and singing everything, which lasted 2 hours (just imagine your typical St. Suburbia Parish in the States!)…On Sunday evening we drove two hours outside Nairobi to a retreat house in Sagana run by the Consolata fathers. I gave two conferences a day plus a homily, plus full prayer schedule and Eucharistic adoration. There were 17 friars, (7 Polish – 10 Africans). I think I was good, they seemed happy, and the dead silence during a few conferences usually means I was hitting the nail on the head. It was good for me as well, very prayerful and quiet. No Internet, tepid showers, sleeping under mosquito nets, iffy electricity, but the spirit was good.
Tourism: The retreat ended on Friday morning … One of the friars, … who functions as development director, accompanied me on a tour of the friaries. We headed three hours by car to Ruiri, the first of our foundations in Kenya, way out in the bush, where all the liturgies are celebrated in a local native language Kimeru. The four friars have a large mission compound with a parish, a retreat house, a Postulancy, a Pre-K through 8 elementary school, and a rural medical station. They also serve 19 out-stations. They work with a community of Felician sisters, as well. All Kenyans here, simple friary, rationed water because of semi-arid conditions, surrounded by a working farm which provides basic food.
The next morning was a three hour car ride to Subukia, where the friars have care of the Kenyan National Shrine of Our Lady of Subokia, established in 1980, as a result of St. John Paul II’s visit to Kenya and a series of Marian apparitions. The friars arrived in 2006 on the invitation of the Kenyan bishops. It is quite impressive. We are building a 4500 seat church, paid for entirely by Kenyan fundraising. There is already a carpentry shop to provide local labor, with plans for a trade school. There are also plans for a retreat house and a Franciscan Center for Peace and Dialogue, designed as a place where tribal conflicts in Kenya can be resolved through peacemaking and dialogue. The vision and initiative of the friars is quite impressive. They honored me with a roast leg of goat for dinner.
The next morning, … we went on safari by car through Lake Nakuru Wildlife Reserve. Close up we saw baboons, buffalo, antelope, zebra, gnu, giraffe, warthogs, impala, ibyx, pelicans, flamingo, and storks. At a little distance rhinoceros, and, as we were leaving, a lion in the sabannah. It was a truly awesome. After 4 hours in the park, we proceeded to a friary in Limuru, where the friars have a parish, a small press for devotional literature, a grade school, a women’s trade school, and a home for abused and abandoned girls from ages 4-22. From there to Langata, where the Theology students of Africa (37 from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Ghana) live and study at nearby Tangaza Catholic University, one of the premier Theological Centers in Africa. Finally, back to Provincial Offices in Nairobi, with working Internet!
The next day, my last, we spent around Nairobi. We started in an orphanage for baby elephants, who were orphaned either because poachers killed their mothers, they got trapped in something man-made, like a well, or they got separated from their mothers for some other reason. Elephants are like human infants: they need their mothers’ milk for the first three years, so they feed the babies with formula in two-liter baby bottles! Then they try to integrate them into another herd, which can take up to another 5 years, depending upon the trauma to the baby elephants. It was a fascinating visit. Next we went to a breeding center for giraffes, which are also losing their habitat due to human development. There you could hand-feed a giraffe.