For eleven years, I've served at the pleasure of Orangutans. It's been the most joyful, stressful, fulfilling, draining, interesting, hate-filled, educational, self-revealing experience of my life.
Over those eleven years, I've watched - from afar - many of you being rescued from horrific circumstances, orphaned by the greed of men; watched you fall under the care of beautiful and loving souls in BOS Foundation; seen you grow over the years through their nurturing of your bodies, your minds and your sense of independence and finally, shared in that wonderful moment when you are transported with your extended family to safe forest. Witnessing you being set free to live your lives in the trees where you belong, nurturing the forests that gave you life is one of the most beautiful and memorable moments I will forever treasure.
Over those eleven years, I've met countless people striving to help you in their own way; helping children fundraise; encouraging adults to run marathons, do triathlons, cover vast distances across Sahara deserts, all in your name. I've been a tiny part of attempts to unify organisations into a global entity to represent your interests and your futures, and bore witness to the weaknesses that get the better of us as humans when our egos blind and consume the vision of the greater goal we share.
Yes. We failed you there.
I feel the pain of that failure time and time again. So many of you have died, continue to die every day while we struggle to find the common ground needed to collaborate and make the world a better place for you. Is that not common ground enough? Even though I no longer work for you, I will continue to feel that pain.
That pain, I hope, will keep me humble and human for the rest of my life.
But I've learned so much about myself and that is very much thanks to the privilege I was afforded by the honour of working for you. The charity I served which served you was always a very small, tight-knit team, from my beginnings there in 2007 under BOS to evolving to a new brand under OPF.
Times change and time changes each of us. In 2016, everything changed. That year, a horrible year in so many ways, we lost a bright, young light to tragedy. Some of you met John Jones two years before in the forest. You changed him too.
But you know all too well that life has a habit of sneaking up you, stealing what you hold dear. Sometimes in the guise of promises, where those promises become lies and the disappointment sits bitter on your mind. I try not to let it sit bitter on my tongue, aware that words are weapons that can quickly be turned back on those who speak them. Beware promises that come too easily, too quickly. Adapt and catch them off guard before they become the lies that turn you in on yourself and twist your heart into a shape you promised yourself it would never become.
So in November 2017, I made my choice. It was the best one. I learned my lessons well from a few good, wise men.
I did not want to leave you quite so suddenly as I did, but choices out of my control forced my hand. I could not compromise my own sense of self-respect and integrity and remain in my position. It was a choice I do not regret because it was the right thing to do. No job is worth lending your kudos to those who take it for granted.
But without any shadow of doubt, I will always appreciate the lessons you taught me, my fellow simians. Know that while humanity may sometimes test our patience and resilience, I will never give up on you.
Because every time one of you goes free, a little piece of me goes free too.