My first flight, after my family and I moved to Sulawesi, took me into the middle of the Wana tribe area in central Sulawesi. I was supposed to take two ladies from our base in Palu to the new bush village, Uewaju. In addition, I was to bring lots of food, building material… and two more teachers from Toronggo, a little town 10 minutes flight from Uewaju.
Our family have been living abroad in Madagascar for almost twelve years. When we arrived our daughters Andie and Caro were 6½ and 3 years old respectively. Some of our family and friends told us that it was not reasonable, and even irresponsible, for us to go to such a place with very young children and to expose them to such drastic changes.
Finally, the day to "break camp" had come. The 7-day trek on the “Gorilla Trail”, through the unknown and unexplored jungle of South Cameroon, was about to start. The luggage was ready and waiting in front of the house where they had had to wait for a permit. That had taken a couple of days.
At the end of the 1960s, Ernie Tanner was interested in southern Cameroon’s vast rain forest area near the equator. Here, on the outskirts of civilization, it was suspected that some Pygmy villages existed: In reality however, many more isolated and unrecognized people actually lived there.
Experienced by Ernie Tanner during his early years in Ethiopia:
During my work in the Omo Valley (Valley of Death), men of the Bodi Tribe crossed the Omo River and attacked the Kafa Tribe. They killed 450 people and stole approximately 3,000 cows, sheep and goats. They devastated one village after another.
We got a Medevac call for an elderly man with a serious neck injury who needed to be flown to the hospital. His village, Lokon, is only about 10 minutes flight from our base here in Wamena. At the time, I wasn’t doing solo flights, so Micha and I got the helicopter ready and flew to Lokon.