Andy’s chance of a lifetime

It all began when I started work with the Appeal UK in Sepilok in 2009. I had just graduated in my first degree from the Malaysian University when I got an opportunity to work with the Appeal.  I took the chance and began working as a research assistant, and after 1 year the Appeal Chairwoman, Sue Sheward, ask me if I wanted to further my studies in primate conservation in UK. I said I would love to but never expected it to go this far and experiencing England was just a dream for a local Malaysia boy like me.

It all changed when Mike Steel, the Appeal’s Sabah advisor, inform me that I was going to England for my study. This reminded me of the time I spent with Sue and her husband Martin in the forest tracking Sogo the juvenile female OU, when Sue ask me about furthering my education.  My dream came to reality when I made my journey to England on the 13th of May 2010. I will never forget this date because it was the beginning of a big transformation in my life.

I just can’t find the words to describe my feelings, I was so happy, grateful, excited and incredibly enthusiastic.  All I can say is I feel an enormous gratitude to the Appeal UK who were willing to give me the opportunities which only can be a dream to most of the people in Borneo. 

The Orangutan Appeal UK has given me a full sponsorship in terms of both financial and moral support. All the staff was very welcoming and keen to help me with a smile on their face.  I find myself at home here, surrounded by wonderful caring individuals.

Mr. and Mrs. Sheward have been so nice and caring and I felt I have been treated like their own flesh family during my time here. They understand the shock of the culture and environment’s drastic change as well as supporting me in any way they can. I am sure I would be crying to go home if it wasn’t for the support they gave me.  Then I got to meet the lovely staff in the Orangutan Appeal Uk, office who were so welcoming and determined to help me.

I remember the last advice my mother whispered to me which was to make the best from this lifetime opportunity and set up an objective and goal so that I will be back home not empty handed.  My mission in UK is to enter Oxford Brookes University and experiencing the orangutan conservation management in England.

In order to enter Oxford Brookes, I have to pass a special English exam called IELTS. This is compulsory for any foreign student who intended to further their study in UK. Therefore, the Appeal sent me to Bournemouth University to improve my English and take my exam. All I can do is keep trying the best I can to pass.

I have now begun the next stage of my education at the Durrell Institute in Jersey.  Here I will be gaining as much information as I can and studying their wildlife conservation management and taking home useful information and method to be practice in Sepilok.  I expect there to be a huge different in terms of Orangutan conservation management at Durrell’s compared to my experience in Sepilok but I am really looking forward to sharing as much information that I have with them.

Even if I can’t pass my exam and stay for University here, at least on the way back home, I can tell myself what a lucky person I have been to be able to gain as much experience that I only previously dream of.  A million thanks and gratitude to the Orangutan Appeal UK who have provided me such a wonderful chapter in my life as well as the enormous financial and moral support which has invest in me and given me my CHANCE OF A LIFETIME.

We have our fingers crossed that Andy will be the first Malaysian “Primatologist” in Sabah.