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Ella Parkes

October 2014 Raw Angel!

Young Eco Warrior in the making…. 

Meet Ella Parkes, Year 7 and this is her inspiring story.

When I was at primary school a friend told me about the effect palm oil production was having on the forests and orangutans. We wanted to do something to let others know about the problem and what they could do to help. 

Last year, when we were in year 6, our Principal let us make a presentation at the school assembly. We outlined the problem, and how bad the situation is and we also told the school about how they could avoid buying products with palm oil and how we as a school could raise money to donate toward helping the orangutans.

So we held a simple fund raiser where on a Friday students were encouraged to wear orange, and to place a gold coin donation within an outline of an orang-utan that had been drawn on the asphalt. We raised enough to adopt an orangutan for the school and protect some land from being cleared for plantation.

My friend and I also rang companies that produced things in our pantries, to ask about palm oil in their products, and if they did use palm oil, was it sustainable? And if they said it was sustainable, what did that actually mean?

When we were fundraising at school, one of my mum’s colleagues, who loves orangutans too, made a donation and told mum about a holiday she was going on in Sumatra. Mum got the details and that is how we found out about the RAW tours. It was the kind of experience that we would all like to have so we booked. I wanted to see orang-utans in their jungle while I could and what palm oil plantations looked like, for real.

We had our holiday in September and it was awesome!

Every day was a highlight, but the highest of highlights for me was seeing orangutans, in the jungle doing their thing. They are a lot more like humans than I had realised.
Their interactions between each other: we watched a mum and baby for ages, she built a nest and gestured for the baby to come down and rest with her. The baby pretty much ignored her, except a quick cuddle and then back up to play above her head in the tree. It was magic.

Their ears, are just like ours and their eyes.

I had fun all the time on the tour. There were no stupid art galleries or temples. Besides the orangutans, gibbons and monkeys we saw on trek, we washed and hung out with elephants, swam, rafted and met lovely people. 

The only hard bit was going home…..

When we were at a village we met a woman and her daughter. The daughter was not much older than me but had stopped school because it was too much money for her family to afford.

This made me feel sad because her opportunities are less than mine. By sponsoring a girl to go to university from the village, it means that they will have the opportunities that I wish everyone could have. I don’t know if I will go to university, I am only in year 7, but at least I can choose.

I am already planning my next adventures, back to Sumatra, then the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and Africa.

Ella Parkes

* Ella has personally funded a female from the village of Tangkahan in North Sumatra to attend university for 4 years! What a wonderful inspiration from a young eco warrior. 

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