"Because They Needed Me": Rita Miljo and the Orphaned Baboons of South Africa

by Michael Blumenthal, Rita Miljo


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In May of 2007, noted American poet and novelist and son of Holocaust refugees Michael Blumenthal went to South Africa to volunteer at C.A.R.E., a rehabilitation center for orphaned and injured baboons founded by Rita Miljo. Rita was a Lithuanian-born childhood member of the Hitler Youth who had gone on to have a life as adventure-filled as Beryl Markham’s in West With the Night.

A lot of people have asked me whether they could write ’my book,’ Rita wrote to Michael shortly thereafter, “and I said no, because I was envisaging a story both sad and happy, but certainly mixed with a lot of humor. But if you asked me, I would not say no.” With that, for the only time in her life, Rita entrusted another human being with thirty years’ worth of her journals, and a rare and unusual collaboration was born. Because They Needed Me is that story, a chronicle of primate conservation and the intrepid and courageous woman who devoted her life to it. It is like no other book of its kind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780912887388
Publisher: Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press
Publication date: 05/01/2016
Pages: 212
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michael Blumenthal, formerly Director of Creative Writing at Harvard, graduated from the Cornell Law School in 1974 and is currently Visiting Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic at The West Virginia University College of Law. In his free time, he reads and thinks about primates of all sorts.

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