Newsflash Willie Smits

Just arrived in the Netherlands, directly from the event of celebrating our first decade as Masarang Foundation, which took place in our Tasikoki animal rescue center in North Sulawesi

Newsflash of Willie Smits, February 3 2011

Just arrived in the Netherlands, directly from the event of celebrating our first decade as Masarang Foundation, which took place in our Tasikoki animal rescue center in North Sulawesi on February 2, 2011.

I sit here now at Steven Smit’s home in Amsterdam where Masarang International and our website are residing and make happy use of his high-speed Internet access.

People in the Netherlands have such good facilities! The electricity doesn’t fall out at least once a day for a couple of hours, telephone and Internet work continuously and the gasoline pumps always have fuel available! People in developed countries take all these luxuries for granted and expect it to be the same for the rest of the world … An example? A few emails from America last year at a time that I spent a week in the inland of Borneo without electricity, phone, let alone Internet, in order to save orangutans:

Day 1: Dr. Smits, I admire your work and would like to support it.

Day 2: Dr. Smits, the email I sent yesterday probably didn’t come through, so just to be sure
I send this mail again. With very best regards!

Day 5: Mr. Smits, should I remind you that it is not polite not to respond to
people who are doing their best to help you! I hope you’re so polite to
answer me!

Day 7: Mr. Smits, good to know that you’re such an ungrateful person and that I haven’t transferred you any money. I will tell the other people here what a rude person you are
and that they shouldn’t believe the beautiful videos and send you money!

Day 8: (I) Dear Mrs …. Just got back from 8 days in the jungle without any communication means and unfortunately I don’t have an assistant to help me with the 200 daily
emails. Certainly no bad intent that I haven’t been able to respond earlier

End of communication!!!

This was an extreme case, but every time I arrive in the Netherlands and open my computer and automatically log-on to a wireless network and sent large files with images in seconds instead of hours, I often think of these kind of communications.

Our 10th anniversary. We started with plotting fish on January 14, on January 17 we awarded college students with scholarships, followed by planting trees and releasing 7 Sulawesi macaques. The high school students received their scholarship on January 29 and yesterday we closed the celebrations with a workshop on strategies for nature conservation in the province of North Sulawesi and the release of some sea eagles.

The lecture that I gave is translated in English and can be downloaded from our website (see media/presentations). Below, I will briefly summarize the results.

Around eleven o’clock, (an hour later than planned, but that’s Indonesia) we met with the Governor of the province and the local district head of our region in Tasikoki. Together with Simon Purser, an Englishman who leads the program for the animals and the volunteers, we made a walk to the animals and when it started to rain we continued by car to the beach. Here we officially inaugurated a boat that was donated by the Governor to my Minaesa University. After that, we released a pair of sea eagles. Then we went with the Governor’s car to the ecolodge for coffee with palm sugar while the approximately 150 guests went to our Conference room.

Dr. Julius Pontoh led the workshop and the Governor gave a good lecture with much praise for the work of the Masarang Foundation. He’s pretty erudite and speaks good English, in addition to a bit of Dutch and reasonable French. He is very proud of his personal library and recently he got his PhD. I was very happy with the support of all those officers who occasionally can make our life difficult. For example Customs when we receive medicines from abroad, or Immigration that tries to earn extra money with the extension of a visa for the foreign volunteers at Tasikoki. I asked them to stand up in the presence of the Governor and asked them if from now on they will support this excellent project. All police, army, forest service, immigration, solemnly proclaimed to do so under the willingly nodding of the Governor and the regional chief! 🙂

My story was followed by a good discussion with many questions of the attending audience. Students, activists, diving resorts, the new head of the nature protection in North Sulawesi, all came up with critical questions and good suggestions. Then it was time for lunch and then about half of the guests left with the Governor and we continued the workshop with a smaller group. And then it was time for me to go to the airport and via Jakarta and Dubai end up here in Amsterdam where I sit at the table together with Steven and write this post. On to the next ten years! I will try to post the results of the workshop in a separate document. At least our kilometer long beach at Tasikoki will receive a special protected status and from next week animals will be confiscated again.