A powerful autobiographical tale of spiritual struggle on an equatorial African island.
In the beginning, in 1973, when a young couple met at a seminary in the city of Boston, during a time of great racial tension over an issue called bussing, they dared to share a dream and the dream was about faith, progress, unity, love and sustainable development in Africa. She trained in education, her Canadian husband schooled in medicine.
They would return to the Ugandan paradise island of her youth in Lake Victoria only to discover that beauty hid the beast; that an interracial couple, white and black and their Ancient Orthodox faith would cause a spark which turned verdant fields into flames of conflict. Truths would be told and taboos would be broken. Courage would be unveiled and passions uncovered.
This story is about the glue that maintained the vision until time, politics and war wore it away. It is also about survival and rebirth and the ultimate seeds which gave birth to a new crop of hopes. “What are you looking at old man?” the young doctor queried. The elder was looking into a rotten log. “I am seeing the face of God,” he smiled standing up, allowing the doctor to see the sun kissed orchid.”
“The face of God,” he said, and so it was, for their five years on Bukasa island uncovered the weaknesses and strengths of this couple and the community around them. That they would fail was inevitable, but that they would survive in a real and mystical way was the hidden treasure.
Gerasimos I. Kambites was born in Montreal in 1947. He is a third generation Greek Canadian. Raised in his father’s corner store he read every comic book and most magazines and books that came through the store for 15 years. He went to Sir George Williams University in Montreal from 1965 – 1969, then worked as a Parliamentary journalist for United Press International 1969 – 1973.
He wrote two stories for National Geographic and produced an audio documentary on Mount Athos: In the Fullness of Truth, for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He was a videographer for the world’s longest snowmobile expedition in 1973, the Transworld Snowmobile Expedition. That experience led him to Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts. He then spent six months in Sinai’s St. Katherine’s Monastery.
Having earned a Master’s in Divinity, he went on to medical school at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario before heading to Uganda. He was ordained to the priesthood by the late Metropolitan Vitaly, founded Annunciation Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island and St. Xenia’s of St. Petersburg in Ottawa, eventually leaving the priesthood.
He studied psychiatry in the early nineties and now works as an Orthodox psychotherapist. He and his wife, Ann, are members of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Ottawa. They raise sheep and horses on a farm on the internationally acclaimed Rideau River and Canal System, and continue to support Father Christopher Walusimbi on Bukasa Island.
In 2008 Dr. Kambites took part in National Geographic’s Genographic DNA tracking program. The greatest irony for him is that his genetic map marks him as having originated in East Africa, in the Northern part of Lake Victoria. By moving to Uganda, in a true sense, he was just coming home.