Lonely Conservationists

Morgane (This story is not a fairytale)

Story by Morgane Ristic

Here is a brief story showing how much getting out of your comfort zone can change your life for the best.

 “Take the risk or lose the chance.”

My name is Morgane, I am 21 and I started what would be a career of conservation without truly being aware of it. I had always been very interested in nature and particularly wildlife, but I recall my parents telling me how “animals were a hobby, a passion, but not a job”. I studied economy in high school which I enjoyed very much, but when it came to making a decision about a lifelong career, I just simply could not. At home, things were not going too well and walls were building up within my family, the environment there became toxic and I soon started to realise that I needed to step away and focus on myself.

So it is at the age of 18 that I decided to leave France to go and learn English in England. I applied to a European volunteer scheme in a primate rescue centre there. Although my primary goal was to learn the language, this placement was such a dream that I was not ready to let go. I remember working day and night on my English, my CV and cover letter. To me there wasn’t a chance that I would be able to take part in such an amazing project: my English wasn’t that good, I knew very little about primates and I had always been far too anxious to shine in an interview. But I wanted this so bad. So I worked on it. Every. Single. Day. And. Night.  And I pulled through. December 2015, soon after sending my application form, I was invited to an interview. I then worked even harder. I technically could not have become bilingual in 2 weeks, but I worked very hard on what I knew I wanted to show through this interview. All I needed to communicate was how much this opportunity meant to me, and why I would be the right one for the job: if I could explain these well enough, I knew that the job would be mine. Bingo.

This was the very beginning of my career, although back then I would have called it a “break” rather than a job experience as I still thought I would come back. 12 months in and I had learnt so much about myself,  primates, the illegal and legal pet trade as well as conservation. As an education assistant, I got to spend my days looking after primates and talking to the public about those we had rescued, and directly impact their thoughts and beliefs on the matter. I felt useful.

On this incredible journey, I also met the person who would become one of the most important people in my conservationist journey and in my life, the very same man who a year and a half before had interviewed me: Paul, my now 3 yearlong boyfriend.  Through our adventures he has given me the confidence to carry on the path of conservation, a path that I had always found very precarious: one with little pay and few jobs going, but very demanding.

Very early in our relationship, it was already time for me to go home, whilst he went to work in Ethiopia to manage a wildlife centre there. And it is back then that everything hit me. Back to my old life, far from the one I loved, I realised that there was something better for me, and it wasn’t here. Not long after we were making a move to go and manage a release site for a year, deep in a jungle of Costa Rica. We are now back in England working in a fantastic wildlife hospital, side by side, happier than ever. ♥

This story isn’t a fairy tale, and no matter how easy things may appear, they all come with their own challenges and victories.

“Don’t take every challenge as a problem, take every problem as a challenge.”

To see more of Morgane, follow @wildlife_rescue_adventure on Instagram

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