30 May 2014- Ketapang, West Kalimantan; Banda Aceh, Sumatra. In two separate evening ceremonies hosted by Yayasan Palung and Orangutan Information Center, sixteen students bound for college or in college in Borneo and Sumatra were honored as recipients of the 2014 Orangutan Caring Scholarship. OURF president Dr. Gary Shapiro flew to the coastal cities of Ketapang in West Kalimantan (Borneo) and Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra to present the scholarships and to participate in the festivities. OURF and other partnering organizations (The Orangutan Project, Orangutan Outreach, ASFF) provided the funding for the scholarships while the hosting NGOs administer the program with the students in their respective region. This was the largest number of scholarships awarded in a single year since the program began in 2006 with a single scholarship.
The 2014 Borneo Orangutan Caring Scholarships were given out on May 28 in a restaurant in downtown Ketapang and was attended by government and university officials as well as Yayasan Palung staff, the recipients and other guests. Mrs. Mariamah Achmad (Mayi) from Yayasan Palung opened the ceremony and brief presentations were given by Dr. Shapiro, Mr. Tito Indrawan (from Yayasan Palung) and one of the judges on the selection panel. Four students from West Kalimantan (Hanony Rafika Sari, Riduan, Petrus Yendri, and Sumihadi) signed the scholarship contracts with the implementing organization representatives.
The 2014 Sumatra Orangutan Caring Scholarship ceremony took place on May 30 in a coffee shop in Banda Aceh. Banda Aceh was a city devastated by a tremendous tsunami on Christmas Day 2004. The ceremony began with the singing of an opening prayer. Slide presentations illustrating the history of the scholarships were given by Mr. Panut Hadisiswoyo, head of OIC, Dr. Gary Shapiro, and Mr. Binur (also of OIC). The head of the local natural resources department was also on hand to address the students. Twelve students, six from North Sumatra (Yan Herni, Nur Mahdiana, Reza Fahlevi Siregar, Nira Wati, Marina Oktaviani, Rifai Muda Harahap) and six from Aceh (Akmal Qurazi, Helvi Musdarlia, Nabila, Nanda Silvia, Siti Patimah, Rahmat Nazif) committed to the conditions of the scholarship when they signed the contract with Mr. Hadisiswoyo and Dr. Shapiro as signatories. Part of the conditions for all scholarship recipients to receive annual funding is to provide annual reports and to show proof of attendance in good standing each year.
The Orangutan Caring Scholarship program has provided 77 students with opportunities to attend the University of Medan, University of North Sumatra, University of Syiah Kuala, STIK Pante Kulu, National Islam University Ar-Raniry, and University of Tanjungpura in the fields of biology, forestry and veterinary science. Of these students, 25 have graduated and have gone on to graduate school or jobs in conservation, education, veterinary medicine, and business in the private and public sector. All have become advocates for orangutans having done volunteer work for the various implementing NGOs and understanding that their academic future was, in a large part, aided by a scholarship given to them in the name of the endangered orangutan.
TAKE ACTION: Readers should consider helping to support the Orangutan Caring Scholarship fund for future scholarships. Each four year scholarship costs approximately $1500 which includes tuition, research write-up and administrative costs. Individuals can help fund a single or partial scholarship. Organizations, including nonprofits, family foundations, companies, religious institutions and schools, can also participate in this valuable program. OURF thanks our funding partners: The Orangutan Project, Orangutan Outreach, and the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation.