Tricia is only four years old and will start her first year in nursery school (called “Baby”) when the government reopens schools, hopefully in early January.

It is the oldest story in the world.  Her mother is very young.  She thought she was in love, got pregnant, dropped out of secondary school,” and no one ever heard or saw the father again.

She now struggles to feed Tricia and herself.  She works as a porter for tourists who trek to see the gorillas.  Porters carry camera equipment, backpacks, and whatever the tourist wants, but the best thing they do is help tourists up the mountains – sometimes very muddy and slippery slopes.  Porters in front may reach a hand back to help the tourists up – and another may give them a little rear end push.

There’s a problem.   The list of people who want work is very long, and most are fortunate to get the chance once a month.  They are paid very little and depend on tips.

Tricia’s mother also does things like carry tourists’ luggage to their rooms at a lodge, but even in the best of times, it is not much – and for a long time now, there have been few tourists.  If you sponsor Tricia and come to Bwindi to visit her and to see the gorillas, tip the most you can – it may make the difference if a child eats that week.

Both Tricia and her mother live with Tricia’s grandmother, who is very old and a widow.   And here’s the hardest problem of all:  if a woman remarries, in this culture which is just a step away in time from the old Tribal customs, the new husband rarely allows the woman to bring children from a previous relationship with her.

She may not understand it now, but Tricia needs some security in her life, the kind only a child in poverty can sometimes receive in Uganda – a sponsor.