In a world filled with chaotic voices shouting “Me, Me, Me!”, I hear one voice beckoning, “You can help, they need us.” The certainty comes from a lifetime of giving. The voice belongs to Rebecca Reeder. As a young girl, Rebecca was constantly raiding the refrigerator to feed strays and takes bites of food to the animals at the animal shelter. In high school she had a big stuffed orangutan on her bed, and while reading National Geographic magazines stories she learned about women working with great apes. Rebecca had an inner feeling that she, too, had to do this. She supported the foundation for Koko the gorilla and was fascinated with the decades long study with her. She related to Penny who dedicated her life to Koko and she understood that to Penny, Koko was her child.
Today, Rebecca is a poet and a photographer(her favorite media). She loves art and has always been creative, usually in writing and photography and designing cards. Her grandmother and a great, great grandfather were published poets, also. Rebecca has a Zazzle gallery, many of her products are designed with her photographs of her kids, orphaned orangutans. Rebecca supports numerous charities for impoverished schools and needy people. She also donates her profits from her sales to help wildlife and domestic animals. Her primary focus is the Orangutan Foundation International. Please keep Rebecca’s Zazzle gallery in mind while selecting gifts and cards for loved ones. I know if I received a present that helped one of these precious animals I would feel doubly blessed.
I asked Rebecca if there were a story about one particular orangutan she would like to share with us. She answered, “Each orangutan is so unique, just like humans and children, so it is difficult to know where to begin. Since the orangutans at the OFI Care Center are orphans, they all tug at one's heart strings. I think mostly-blind Omre might be our favorite because he has incredible odds to overcome when he is released into the rain forest to live out his life as a wild orangutan. Omre's loss of eyesight is due to injuries; one can see where the side of his head was hit above the eye that is totally blind. He has very limited vision in the other eye. Some of the baby orangutans are missing hands or parts of an arm, the result of being literally cut out of their mothers' arms when the mothers were killed during destruction of rain forest or when the mothers entered a palm oil plantation in search of food in cleared areas. By the way, in my Smilebox slide show (on the home page of my Zazzle gallery) , Omre is the one in the second slide. There are two photos, jumping onto an assistant caretaker's back and then kissing him. Also, that is Omre in the "Blind Baby" card.”
Rebecca travels to Borneo, an island in Indonesia, for an extended visit, at least once a year to help care for the orphans. She helps get and prepare their food and she gets to interact and care for them. Orangutans don’t live on the ground in the wild, so they are encouraged to climb trees and swing on vines. They love swinging in tree tops and use the breezes in the tree canopy to cool off. Did you know that orangutans have a body temperature higher than humans?
Here is an adorable video of the orphaned orangutans:
Cute Dancing Orangutans on Youtube
To help the endangered orangutan specifically, you can become a member of the Orangutan Foundation International and you can foster orphaned orangutans. Also, you can donate money to the Orangutan Foundation International and specify that you want it to be used to buy land to set aside as protected areas of the rain forest. They are a registered charity and contributions to the Orangutan Foundation International are tax deductible in the United States. No donation is too small. People can make a difference. Also, Orangutan Foundation International offers two opportunities for people to volunteer as part of month-long work groups. If a person is adventurous, this might be an opportunity to apply for. It is rigorous, but truly a rare opportunity. OFI hopes to have one group each July and one each August. Dr. Birute' Gadlikas, the founder of OFI, is there, and still actively involved! Dr. Galdikas is one of the three so-called Leakey's Angels, along with Jane Goodall and the late Dian Fossey. Many people know Fossey's life story from the movie "Gorillas in the Mist." You can see the OFI Care Center in Jeff Corwin's episode about Borneo's Orangutans (filmed a few years ago) and an even older documentary starring Julia Roberts. Check out the October 1975 cover of National Geographic to see Dr. Galdikas and considering reading her book REFLECTIONS OF EDEN.
Rebecca Reeder’s links:
Online Stores: www.zazzle.com/Rebecca_Reeder (also on Cafe Press -but very limited)
Guest editor/blog at: http://ofitoday.com(Orangutan Foundation International )