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.
In January 1999, fighting in the Kosovo conflict flared up again causing a wave of 500’000 to 1’000’000 refugees. Many fled to the north of Albania where Helimission transported trailers to one of the large SOS camps. These were then built together to make an SOS medical center.
Ernie and Hedi Tanner celebrated their 90th birthdays last year! Looking back, Ernie, as a pioneer and founder of Helimission, recalled with gratitude how he was safely and wonderfully guided through countless dangerous situations. He often found himself in life threatening situations. He has a treasure chest full of experiences and can tell lots of amazing stories.
In the years 1997/ 1998, the weather phenomenon El Niño caused a lot of suffering and need. Among the countries which were affected was also Papua (then known as Irian Jaya) the easternmost province of Indonesia. This island is the most untouched jungle region in Asia Pacific. Roughly 3,2 million people live in an area which is almost the size of the State of Montana in the States. Some of them are still living in stone age conditions with cannibalism still a part or their culture.
Nia and Tayu were happily climbing a small tree. There are not many high trees in the dry Masai land of south Kenya. Suddenly, Tayu fell from the tree with a dreadful scream. He lay on the ground bent in pain.
This was also the case with Helimission! Back in the 60s, Ernie Tanner tramped for days through the African jungle. With carriers and interpreters, he entered these unpenetrated jungles of Southern Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville. He experienced the monumental exertions of this work first hand.