Faces of FOK: Q&A with Lili
What is your FOK story? When did you join and why?
I joined Friends of the Koala in January 2012, nearly 10 years ago! I had recently quit a full time job where I was working night shifts, I had time and I needed to do something fulfilling, something that made sense. I always had a passion for wildlife and the natural world. I knew straight away, FOK would be the place for that change. I am also French and born the same day as Brigitte Bardot! It was meant to be.
What is your role here? What roles have you done in your time here?
My primary role is to care for the sick and injured koalas every Monday. I help the vet team with treatments, weights in the morning and I clean the enclosures, change leaf, help with more treatments in the afternoon. I am also involved with rescuing and I have helped with fundraising over the years. I was also on the Committee for 2 years. My partner is an arborist and has been climbing trees to emergency-rescue koalas. He is also keen on wearing the koala suit for fundraising.
What does volunteering with FOK (or volunteering in general) mean to you?
Volunteering is very important to my life balance. We are unfortunately in a culture that takes a LOT and hardly gives anything back. And that cannot work. This is why everything is off-balance. We should give back what we take. It is extremely rewarding to do something for someone or something else without expectations. Without the financial aspect being involved. It expands your heart and empathy. We need that feeling more than ever.
Do you have any particularly special memories of your time at FOK? Are there any moments that really stand out?
Every Monday at FOK is very special to me. I look forward to it. Even after 10 years! Even though we see a lot of trauma, pain, suffering and hopelessness sometimes, we know we are helping and doing our part to slow down this process of extinction. Koalas have helped me a lot also. When you see what they go through, the struggle and challenges they face, you start relativizing and stop complaining. They have made my world, heart and understanding of life a lot larger. Until we connect with a wild animal, we only see them as a group of something and we tend to be indifferent. When you spend time and make that connection, you see them as an individual having their own life and you really start caring a lot more and understand how much they belong too. We are all related. Every single koalas is very special in its own way. I have seen hundreds of them over the years. And I can guarantee you that. Of course I had my favourites. They become like little fury friends. I will remember them forever.
What do you think is special about FOK?
FOK became my family straight away. Being an immigrant, it has been a home for me. We’ve had Christmases together, lots of memories, yummy morning teas and lots of laughter that I will always cherish. I love working with the team. We all come from different horizons, walks of life and yet we all come as one, give our time, our passion, love and care to help our beautiful native koalas to survive, to have a chance. Everyone from Vet Team, to nursery, rescuers, hotline, carers, leafers, behind the scenes does such wonderful work. It’s heart-warming. I have met hundreds of people there over the last decade and it has been an amazing human experience too. Thank you FOK!