Deep through the valley of deep darkness

She slept, lonely and abandoned, laying into the shadow from a huge umbrella-acacia tree, near by the Hilton Hotels and Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. In the whole surrounding there were no signals of herds of elephants around, where she could possibly belong to. It was obvious that this was a little baby elephant with little chances to survive all by herself in the bush, without the protection of her mother and the herd. The staff of the Sanctuary kept a close eye on the little one for the whole day, with the hope that eventually her mother shows up. They estimate the baby about 3-4 months of age. Herds of elephants passed by during the day, and the little baby tried so desperate  to join each one of them, but they all pushed her away.

The day passed by and the staff noticed that the baby became weaker because of the heat and having no mother milk. She won’t survive the night being like this on her own. The staff decided now to alarm the rangers to rescue her.

It was in the early evening on 27 November 2005 that little Lualeni was rescued. Lualeni was so weak that she without resisting gave herself to her human rescuers. Thankfully she drunk a whole bottle of milk and felt asleep. The first night she stayed with the keepers into the stockade of Voi because it was far too late to go back to Nairobi by plane. In the stockade Lualeni was warmly welcomed by the older orphans, especially Natumi and Icholta who both wanted to be her foster-mother. Her first night in the orphanage was strange and on a strange place but Lualeni was surrounded with the best possible care, safety and lots and lots of love.

The next morning Lualeni was brought to the nursery in Nairobi. The first day and night Lualeni slept deeply. The day after Lualeni was introduced by the other orphans. Sunyei felt in love by meeting Lualeni and decided immediately that this was her “own” little baby to take care of.

But know it all started for real for Lualeni….

All the orphans have their own traumatic story and memories, started on the day they lost their mother and herd. In the orphanage the orphans help each other to heal, by telling each other their stories, they could grieve as long as they needed, and built new bonds for life with each other.

In the period that Lualeni was rescued there were about 6 more babies rescued. A few died shortly after being rescued. Jipe and Lualeni survived the first period and were capable to join the others. Naserian loved Jipe and Sunyei loved Lualeni and they both wanted to nurse their “own” little baby.

But that went not the way everyone supposed.

Sadly little  happy and friendly Jipe died suddenly in one night, with no particular reason. His dead broke every ones heart. He hung into life and was fighting for it.

And there was Lualeni. Physically she seemed doing well but emotionally it all went wrong with this little  baby. The saddest thing to see is an innocent baby with sadness in its eyes. And she didn’t hung on life and wasn’t fighting at all.

One look at Lualeni and what you saw goes beyond the deepest kind of sadness you could imagine.

Day after day she stood by herself, her little head down being sad.

Now she became physically stronger each day, the trauma of her loss came back,  bringing back the shocking memories to see her mother killed.

It was the only thing she could think of and it broke her heart. Sunyei wanted desperately nursing Lualeni but Lualeni didn’t want it. She was in too much pain.

All she did was standing on her own, lonely, deep and deeply sad, her head down tears streamed out her eyes day by day, despite the efforts of the keepers and the other orphans who desperately wanted her to join in.  The only answer they get was a heartbreaking cry or scream full of pain.

Lualeni became a prisoner of her traumatic memories and loss. All she wants was her mummy and feel happy and save again. She lived inside her head and heart.

She looked like if she was caring the sorrow and losses of the whole wide world on her shoulders.

Lualeni was grieving day in day out, intense deep. Every lonely night Lualeni was crying herself into sleep. Felix was her loyal keeper and he was her only little candlelight into the deep darkness. At night Lualeni creeps almost into keeper Felix , desperately searching for a tiny bit of the motherlove she needed so badly. And then there were the nightmare’s she also had.

The keepers and Daphne were afraid that Lualeni would die of a broken heart cause of her emotional pain. The only thing they could do now, was praying for Lualeni and surround her with lots of love and trust.

Everyday 3 month old Lualeni lost more of her grip on life and she was one step closer by heaven.

Playing together means also bonding together for the orphans. By playing football, they learn to play and just be happy again. Madiba just didn’t understand why Lualeni never wanted to play football with him. Everytime he tried to get Lualeni joining him and the others but she never did. As usual she was standing all by herself, her head down,  being deeply sad, living inside her head


When the time was passing by no one knew how to help to heal this tiny baby with her broken heart anymore. But Daphne knew she needs time, much more time. Being safe in the orphanage Lualeni becomes all the time and gets all the time she needs.

Lualeni looked like Dika ( 16 years earlier). Dika’s body was full of thorns when he came in the orphanage. First he suffered by taking all the painful thorns out his tiny body and then he suffered by his trauma of losing his mother, and grieved long and hard just like Lualeni. Dika needed 6 long months to grieve, and then he became one of the proud success stories of the orphanage.

At one day, just a normal sunny day, when the orphans were playing football the miracle happened. Madiba as always was persuading Lualeni to join him and the others and kicked the ball to her. Everyone knew that Lualeni took no notice, she was stuck into her own world.

But today it was a different day than usual. When the ball hits Lualeni’s leg softly , a shock went through her whole body like she was suddenly awake after a coma. She looks around if it was for the first time ,then saw the ball, searched it and then kicked it suddenly softly back. Madiba was so happy and kicked back again to Lualeni, again she kicked the ball back.

Was it really happening? Was the sun breaking through by Lualeni’s grieving process?

It seems so. After a grieving period for over more than 4 months Lualeni was reacting for the first time on something.

Was her sadness melting down finally?

It all seemed to be.

From that day on, Lualeni found her way, step by step, back to life again. Every day she took more part by joining the others. Madiba was her favorite and Sunyei, finally, could nurse her favorite baby, but with the loss of Jipe , Naserian wanted also being her foster-mother, so they had to share Lualeni.

All what Lualeni needed was very much time to heal. Being safe and surrounded with care and love in the orphanage Lualeni could grieve and became all the time she needed to heal. Now with 8 months of age Lualeni was like a beautiful blossoming flower. Now was the time Lualeni could learn to be what she simply is, an innocent sweet little baby surrounded with the best care and love from her new family.

Now everyone could meet the real Lualeni; sensitive, fragile, caring, gentile, vulnerable, sweet, loving, nursing, patiently.

That is Lualeni.

But this is just the beginning of the long journey back into the wild again.

Like the others, Lualeni had still a long, long, way to go before she’s ready to live into the wild again.


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