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Employee Spotlight - Ibu Waliyati

"There are currently over 300 orangutans at the OFI Care Center, and no two are the same. It's never easy selecting one "Orangutan of the Month" but at certain times one individual will stand out. For her great courage and resilience, Jalin has earned the spotlight this month. 

Jalin arrived at Orangutan Foundation International's (OFI) Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) when she was just about one year old. A palm oil plantation worker brought her in, claiming to have found her on her own while workers were clearing rainforest to be converted into a palm oil plantation. During her medical examination, the OFI veterinarians noticed her severely bruised hand and two pellets in her body, one of which was behind her ear. These wounds are clear signs that she had been shot at, along with her mother, whom she was likely gripping tightly at the time. Her mother was most likely killed, but fortunately Jalin managed to escape the fate of becoming an illegal pet by being brought to OCCQ. 

Since her arrival at the Care Center, Jalin has thrived. She quickly adapted to her new environment and peers, joining the others in play on her very first day. She eventually graduated forest 'kindergarten' and joined the juveniles at Pondok Cempedak. While the smallest of this new group, she has a big personality. 

Jalin's calm nature stands out as the orangutans prepare to leave their sleeping enclosures for daily forest school. While her peers jump and squeak excitedly around her, Jalin seems to be the eye of the storm. As the group reaches the playground, some of her peers begin playing with each other, but Jalin has a heart for climbing. She makes her way up to the hanging ropes and starts swinging. She also enjoys playing with the big blue barrels or practicing her nest building skills on the wooden platforms. After exploring the playground, it's time for some real climbing in the forest canopy..."

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Get your foster kits and other gifts in time!

December 4th
Last day for International Shipping

December 17th
Last day for Domestic Shipping

December 21st
Last day for Digital/Email Foster Kits

OFI provides medical, parental and emotional care to hundreds of ex-captive orphan orangutans, supporting their journey back to freedom by caring for them and helping them learn forest skills. Give the treasured gift of becoming a part of this process through the adoption of one of our foster orangutans.  View all fosters.

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We need you! 

OFI is a 501(c)3 charity that relies on our supporters to continue important work protecting wild orangutan populations, rainforests, and wildlife in Indonesia.


by Britt ten Have

"On a hot Monday morning in Central Indonesian Borneo, Ibu Waliyati is busy stapling paperwork in her office at Orangutan Foundation International's (OFI) Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ). 'Oh, please come in and have a seat,' she says in perfectly spoken English. 'It's a hot day, isn't it? Would you like some water? I'll be just a minute. I am trying to make a quick phone call to Camp Leakey but sometimes it's not possible.' This busy Senior Administrator is approachable and available to everyone. While at work, there are several knocks on the door and heads pop in. 

Born and raised in a small city in Central Java, Ibu Waliyati might not have imagined that she would one day be living in the jungle and working as the Senior Administrator for a wildlife organization. At a young age, she showed an eagerness for learning. After completing high school, she moved to Jakarta to study Office Administration as well as spoken and written professional English. She took on her first job as an office secretary for a small consulting agency working on a nuclear power plant. While she learned a lot from this position, she was ready for a new adventure after finishing college, and that adventure certainly came! 

Just after graduation, Ibu Waliyati found a job advertisement in a national newspaper looking for a secretary with English reading and writing skills to work in Kalimantan, Borneo. The ad stated that the candidate would be working at a hotel in the town of Pangkalan Bun. As it happened, the hotel owner, a local lady, did not hire Ibu Waliyati. However, she was impressed by Ibu Waliyati's application letter. The hotel owner thought that her good friend, Dr. Galdikas, might be interested in this exceptional applicant. The local lady handed Ibu Waliyati's application letter to Dr. Galdikas who then wrote a letter to Ibu Waliyati offering her a job. 

Feeling adventurous, Ibu Waliyati replied. Communication at this time was still by post or telegram, and because Dr. Galdikas was often in the middle of the jungle, Ibu Waliyati addressed her letter to Dr. Galdikas in care of the lady who owned the hotel in Pangkalan Bun. While the hotel was the most reliable post-address, it was still hours away from Camp Leakey, and the interviewing and hiring process, all by post, was slow. At the time there were no phones in the area. For Ibu Waliyati, the process took over six months, but her patience and persistence eventually landed her the job.  
A few months following the final interview, Ibu Waliyati boarded a small 12-passanger plane that would take her to the tiny airport of Pangkalan Bun in Indonesian Borneo. Dr. Galdikas picked her up at the airport near the village of Pasir Panjang where they began their trip together, over land and water, to Camp Leakey. Ibu Waliyati recalls her journey by boat, amazed at her new surroundings: 'It was such a different world. I came from the big city of Jakarta, and all of a sudden I was in the middle of the rainforest. It is not like nowadays where you can watch TV or 'google' what another place in the world looks like. So, I just let it all happen. It was definitely a great adventure!'

When she arrived at Camp Leakey she soon encountered her first orangutan, named Supinah. Ibu Waliyati laughs and says 'Actually I met Supinah when I was introducing myself to the kitchen staff of the camp. When Supinah approached me from behind, they warned me saying 'Watch out, Supinah doesn't like cooks and can attack!' Then Supinah walked up to me; I didn't know what was going to happen. Supinah sniffed me and looked at my face, but she must have known that I was not a cook' she laughs 'because then she just turned around and started to climb into the trees.'

After her first encounter with an orangutan and meeting the staff at Camp Leakey, Ibu Waliyati started to help Dr. Galdikas with administrative tasks and logistics planning. Camp Leakey was mainly a research site back then, but already open to the public as well, though the number of visitors was much less than it is today. Her first weeks at the camp were both amazing and overwhelming. She stayed in a small wooden house in the middle of the jungle where all the sounds, smells and sensations were brand new to her. These things eventually became familiar to Ibu Waliyati, and she worked with great passion and dedication in Camp Leakey for the next 2 years..."


A Message from Dr. Galdikas

The forest of Tanjung Puting and the Sekonyer river

"Dear Friends of OFI, Today I am making a special, deeply urgent, and very personal appeal to you. Many of you are long-time supporters of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) and you already know my story. In 1971, I traveled to Borneo and established Camp Leakey in what is now Tanjung Puting National Park and began my lifelong field study of orangutans. Immediately, I felt compelled not only to study but also to save these beautiful, solitary, and gentle beings. I understood that saving them meant saving their habitat.

Tanjung Puting was a game reserve in those days and logging was common. One of my first victories in protecting this wonder of biodiversity came with a condition: as long as I remained in Tanjung Puting and continued my work with orangutans there, government officials would make every effort to halt the logging. As I wrote in my book, "Reflections of Eden," I accepted this condition because I understood that every forest needs a guardian.

I stayed in Tanjung Puting and continued to work with Indonesian authorities, partners, students, and friends, to protect it and in 1982 it was designated as a National Park. But deforestation in Borneo has been relentless. By one estimate, only 37% of the forests of Borneo were still intact by 2010. The fires of 2015, considered by many to be one of the worst environmental disasters in history, caused almost incomprehensible damage and made Indonesia one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world. Then in 2016, the status of Borneo's orangutans was raised to critically endangered.

The deadly seriousness of the challenge makes our victories that much more important. With your support, OFI has rescued and released almost 600 wild born ex-captive orangutans back into the wild. In addition to safeguarding the million acres of Tanjung Puting, OFI worked with Infinite Earth to establish the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, protecting an additional 160,000 acres. Your donations have also helped OFI establish the Orangutan Legacy Forest and purchase and protect another 17,000 acres of tropical rain forest. With your support, we fought the fires and it was with your support, too, that we built a nursery, where we saved and nurtured 35,000 precious seedlings from about 20 different, important tree species and began the slow process of turning barren ashy ground into forest again... "

Photos by Sharon Osberg

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