I first met CWAF - as Ape Action Africa was named at the time - and Rachel at a meeting of the International Gorilla Workshop in 2006 in Kent, England. It being my first IGW, I had a list of gorilla VIPs to meet, and Rachel was on it. But everyone else was a zoo person, or a university researcher. Rachel was the only one who actually worked in the forest saving gorilla lives. She said she was nervous about it, but her presentation was articulate and very moving. She talked about the challenging rescues, the distress of the infants, and healing their wounds.
  
Extremely impressed, I soon after made a trip to Cameroon on behalf of The Gorilla Foundation. TGF had a relationship with another project in Yaoundé, and wanted to become more involved with CWAF. It was just a week; I planned to stay in the hotel and go out during the days with each project: first the Yaoundé project, then CWAF. But when Rachel arrived that morning, she surprised me by asking if I'd like to stay in the forest. 
  
This being my first visit to a rainforest, any rainforest, everything was new. And it was stunning. I expected to be impressed by the animals, and I was. But it was the people who really amazed me. Their quiet, patient hard work. Their respect for and dedication to the animals and to Rachel. The equal parts of knowledge and kindness on our forest walks. And the absolutely essential nature of the work that these talented people do, all day, every day.
  
I also remember huge spiders; the bustling city of Yaoundé; the night music of insects; little Pikin; enclosures right in the village; tea with Rachel and Mama Katy; school classrooms.
  
Pikin
  
And before I left there was a project where we/TGF could help: building a new gorilla enclosure. Even then, the gorillas were growing and more were arriving. 
  
I have long since left TGF, in large part because I was much more drawn to the essential work and fine people of Ape Action Africa. Over the years it has been an honor to take the story to the US audience, to find partnerships and source supplies, and to find more wonderful, caring people to join the Ape Action Africa family. And there's nothing like a nice forest visit to recharge the (personal) batteries! (Covid - go away!!!)
  
I congratulate everyone at Ape Action Africa for 25 years of saving lives, healing wounds and restoring family life in safe forest.
  
Susan Lutter
  
We're incredibly lucky to have an amazing team working in Cameroon and across the globe. Sincere thanks to Susan and to all of our wonderful trustees for their dedication to Ape Action Africa and for being part of our forest family. 
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