“I’ve been working in this Koala hospital for four years now. They are my family. I was born in 1949, and I was put in an orphanage when I was 2. My father was an alcoholic. Ireland was a poor country at that time, and men drank too much. My mum was not able to take care of me, as she had 15 children and from that only 8 survived. So, orphanage was the only solution in those days. My mum died at 38 when I was 11. Since I was released at the age of 17, I had no chance to see her even if I wished to. Anyway, I know I have many pearls inside me. I grew up happy, there were good people around me, and they made me who I am. I worked many jobs, as a printer in a printing factory, in a hotel, a tour guide, in the farm with cattle, etc. Later I retired, and I wanted to do something. And that’s why I’m here.
I came to Australia from Ireland with my sister in 1975. We save koala, because they are endangered. Since the Europeans came, 95% of the koala habitat were gone forever, and they killed millions of koala for their fur, thinking that it would made them a fortune in Europe. Besides that, they also brought along other animals, like foxes and rabbits from Europe, in order to satisfy their selfish hunting desire. They had no idea that this greatly destroyed the ecosystem here, and Australia has suffered almost the highest lost of native animals than any other part of the world. Now, only the eastern coast has wild koala in the whole world.
I’ve had many memorable days here. One time we found a blind koala, he was rubbing his nose on an alpaca, thinking it was a female one. We named him Romeo. Later we rescued another girl koala, and named her Juliet. Now, we put them together. And one time a mum saved an orphan koala from a dog, and sent it to us. We wanted to name it after the boy of this mum, so we named him Dominic. That’s what we want, to have people interested and engaged.
My sisters and brothers are here as well, as volunteers for more than 10 years. The experience that I’ve learned from traveling around the world is to treat people with dignity, no matter where they come from, and to treasure whatever you have.”