It’s my birthday today and I think this is my first birthday spent outside of Cameroon since I arrived many years ago as a fresh-faced, twenty-something volunteer who was too shy to speak! I’m 45 years old today. Blimey, where did that time go?!

My birthdays in the forest have generally been like most days - lots of lovely birthday messages received from friends and family, but in general a normal day. We have a sanctuary to run!

I remember one very special birthday; Larry, our former Deputy Director, organised with friends and staff a birthday video for me and also my favourite birthday present of all time, a proper office chair!! The days of sitting on a white plastic chair were over; I now had my very own comfy, turny-around, black office chair, and I loved it!

Former Deputy Director, Larry Taylor, and our Controller, Appolinaire Ndohoudou.

Image © Ape Action Africa 

I’m not the only birthday girl in the forest this month. We have Tamara, our Operations Coordinator, and Julieta, the head of our veterinary department. Both celebrated their special days in the forest; Alex and I organised a birthday cake through Appolinaire, and they shared a drink with all the staff after work. It was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves during lockdown, singing a version of Happy Birthday to them both that I’ve not heard before!!!

Tamara was 33 this birthday. For some reason, it’s the one birthday that I remember very clearly. I spent the day in a car park of a hospital with one of our adult chimps in a transport cage, waiting for several hours for the x-ray department to clear so that we could x-ray our chimp. It was worth the wait, there was no fracture and late that night we were back in the forest. Funny the things you forget and the things you remember?!

This will be a birthday I will not forget. This will be a year that will resonate with everyone.

Today though I’m going to get some work done, go for a little run, then spend the rest of the evening eating all of the birthday cup-cakes my mom has made, and maybe a cheeky bottle of cider later on this evening. Lovely!

Then the world will be one day closer to controlling the pandemic, and it will be one day closer to me getting home to the forest. 

Stay safe, stay inside, save lives. 


Banner image - Julieta and Tamara - © Ape Action Africa

If you missed Rachel's previous blogs, catch up here

If you'd like to wish Rachel, Tamara and Julieta a Happy Birthday, please leave a comment, or if you can, please consider a small donation to help us care for our orphans in the forest. Every contribution makes a difference, and we're very grateful for your support. #stillcaring

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