Had I looked for the perfect story to illustrate the mission of A Varied Life I would need to look no further than the story of Susan Lutter.
A marketing professional she stopped working for money at the age of 50 and began, what she calls to “work from the heart”. Her heart took her on an interesting and inspirational journey. The first stop was volunteer work with Koko, the female gorilla who mastered more than 1000 signs of what is know as ASL – American sign language. In the interview you will hear Susan talk about her experience working with Koko, watching movies with her (guess who her favorite actor is) and learning that Koko does not like puppies but is very interested in food.
Her passion for great apes eventually took Susan to Cameroon and to a sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees and gorillas, which have been rescued from the illegal trafficking and bushmeat trades. The helpless babies are literally nursed back to health with a bottle and live in the sanctuary until they – hopefully – one day can be released into the wild.
Susan was touched by the plight of these chimpanzee and gorilla babies. Often their whole families were killed by criminals and so she decided to help. She was also inspired by the people who are working in the sanctuary and live in the communities surrounding it.
Back home she began to raise money for the sanctuary and the conservation efforts. When she learned that the local school really needed were not crayons and books but toilets she helped raise the necessary money to build them. As Susan puts it: “they tell me what they need and I try and help them get it.”
Susan’s story is truly inspirational. What started out as a part-time activity has turned into a fulfilling and rewarding passion, that Susan spends almost all of her time on. Speaking with her made me want to pack my bags and take off for Cameroon to feed baby chimpanzees with a bottle.
Susan’s webpage is Friends of Ape Action Africa and can be found here. The blog to follow what is going on in the sanctuary and the communities around it is here.
The Facebook page of the sanctuary is here.