photography by Brian Naughton
My name is Aleesha Hanczakowski, I am 22 years old and currently living in Brighton, UK. I have spent the past few years working and traveling mostly between Australia, my home and Europe/UK. During this time i also had the opportunity to take part in the orangutan project on the island of Borneo, one of the worlds biodiversity hotspots. I engaged in the rehabilitation efforts at Matang Wildlife centre, observed the released, semi-wild orang-utans of Semenggoh Nature reserve, the seven different habitats of Borneo in the remaining Bako National Park and trekked through the rainforest to meet the descendants of the Borneo head hunters-the Iban tribes-who are now the custodians of the wild orang-utans of Batang Ai National Park. I have been skating since I was seven, formally representing Australia competing in inline figure skating and am looking forward to combining my passions and abilities to help and improve the conservation efforts in Borneo as the Borneon Orangutan is endangered and facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
I have chosen the charity Orangutan Project as I know those involved are highly dedicated to the cause and care passionately about trying to make the lives of animals better. All of the Western staff are volunteers in the truest sense of the word, receiving no salaries or benefits and asking for nothing in return. One of the goals is to maximise employment of local staff, and not for foreign staff to occupy positions and take salaries that can be given to local people. Anybody can help the cause of endangered animals – the truth is most people want some level of recognition or reward for doing so. This team are simply willing to help, and to do whatever is necessary for progression of the projects. They are making sacrifices every day to be on Borneo fulfilling these roles, and they are making a difference
A disregard of the materialistic and consumerist Western culture and willingness to simply do a job that desperately needs doing, for no real recognition and no financial remuneration is what they, and I believe is what it takes to truly make a difference.