J: Orangutan Heart

Amazing experience with the kids these last few days, an awakening of Noble Goals.

In the month preparing to come to Borneo we began to learn about the animals here and some of the environmental challenges.  Max saw a video on YouTube that talked about orangutans endangered by deforestation, and he became quite concerned, and picked this topic as his school project, so we arranged our trip to spend several days where we could see and learn about these fascinating creatures.


Over the last few days here, both kids, and especially Max, have been asking questions and making comments about the destruction of rainforest for creation of palm-oil plantations.  This morning for Max’s movie, we went to a plantation and took some footage and talked with a naturalist about the situation.  We got talking about the idea that the movie could include a “call to action” asking people to help protect the rainforests, and maybe we could make a kit that schools could use.  The ideas were beginning to form, but at an abstract, “interesting” level.


Today we were lucky enough to interview Lauren and James, two primatologists who work at the reserve (through a charity called Orangutan Appeal UK – link).  Max asked what they liked about Orangutans (their human-like-ness, quick learning, engaging personalities, and environmental importance), and they asked Max what he liked.  “I like it how they look so human, and that makes me remember that we are not the only things on the planet like us.”  Max asked what people can do at home to help the orangutans, and one of their ideas was that kids could have school awareness and fundraising events through schools.

This got the wheels turning faster.

At our last visit to Sepilok Rehabilitation Center today, the kids wanted to adopt an orangutan, a program the charity offers to help provide connection between people and orangutans.  This led to a lot more discussion of how to help, and how to get more kids to adopt orangutans.


At dinner tonight they brought up the deforestation issues again.  Max was wanting to blame the Malaysian people for this problem, and we talked about the sad reality that we’ve done the same in our country, and virtually every country around the globe.  So we can be sad, or angry, or some combination, about the situation – but without putting ourselves above anyone else.  In this discussion Max began to tear up – and talked about how sad he felt about the plight of the orangutans.

Then, something clicked.  The kids began talking about how they could help.  They’d traveled the road of advocacy – from oblivious ignorance to awareness to concern to passion and commitment.


In the taxi on the way home from dinner, Patty suggested that the kids have had a lot of success asking for support from family and friends for projects like read-a-thons.  I suggested that we could invent a new “athon” – a Postcard-athon – and get sponsorships for sending postcards that would raise awareness.  The kids took the idea and ran.  Ideas were flying – finally I said they had to wait to share new ideas ‘till we got back to our room so I could take notes for them.  They were hopping up and down trying to hold onto their ideas.

They’ve been talking NONstop for over an hour, and we’re having a seriously hard time getting them to go to sleep tonight! They’re literally vibrating with passion and hope.  Maxie said, “I really want to help.”  My answer:  “That’s good – because they need you.”

Here are the notes I took on their ideas so far:

We Help Orangutans

1.  Postcard-a-thon
we make cards from pix kids took @ Sepilok, each card has message + on back space to write and request to go to URL…

  • to learn more
  • to adopt an Orang
  • buy pack of 10 cards to send on (100% of sales donated)
  • if you received this card, go to URL to register it!

We ask people to sponsor for how many cards sent

Could encourage others to do same (like summit web site)

People could sign up on web site for updates

2.  Travel Bugs
Make Geocache travel bugs from Sepilok Orangutan keychains, include info on Sepilok, place in caches on our travels

3.  Geocoin
Get Crake to make special geocoin w icon
Include special URL on coin to learn more about Orangutans
We invest to make coins, payback costs from proceeds, remaining funds 100% donated

4. Booth
Traveling booth for fairs – game like quiz game – prizes of Sepilok products

5.  Café Press store

6.  Craft fair online / eco store / ads to help environment

7.  Sponsorship – Do a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Golden Ticket” kind of promotion, get a cereal company to put a special page in their boxes, a few with a great prize, and the company would donate a portion of sales from these boxes to Sepilok.

8.  Write to people like Oprah.

In the Six Seconds EQ Model the “capstone” is a competency we call “Pursue Noble Goals.”  Our view is that when one takes a commitment to a larger purpose it unlocks a new level of emotional power.  There is an incredible feeling that grows from taking action – small actions and big ones – that serve something larger.  This connection becomes a catalyst that transforms emotions at a profound level; in Max and Emma’s case, from sorrow and anger into a fiercely joyful passion. Knowing that you can make a difference sparks some essential human capacity and awakens the unstoppable energy that has fueled every positive change in the human experience.


As they were laying in bed, Emma and Max were whispering to each other about how much of their own savings they’re willing to invest in funding their action project. Maxie whispered to her, “I can’t believe this is really happening.  I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”  We finally got them settled down, Emma writing and Max furiously thinking.  Emma insisted on reading us one more plan, which we all liked, and then she said, “and Daddy, one more thing:  Thank you for taking us seriously.”


10 thoughts on “J: Orangutan Heart

  1. Max and Emma,
    You are both incredible people! Cannot wait to help the orangutans!
    We miss you both! We are getting ready for Halloween today and tomorrow and will save Emma some of that candy she loves-I forgot the name right now, but know what it looks like! And for Max- i’ll just put a bunch in the candy jar at home!
    Keep up the great work Freedmans!
    Happy Halloween!
    Addy, Bill and Lisa

  2. Wow, what an inspirational journey of planting the seeds and a trees of ideas flourishing from them!!! This story has increased my competence of “Optimism” immensely. Josh, you have an amazing talent and I am honored and grateful to have you as a friend/training/coach 🙂

  3. Dear Josh,
    Your description of “Orangutan Heart” made me cry (but in a good way). I’m glad you are all sharing this incredible experience together and with us. Max and Emma are lucky to have you and Patty as parents who can help shape their outrage and empathy into social change.

  4. Emma and Max, Patty and Josh,
    What an incredible experience to see, to feel and then to do.

    So few get to see what you have seen and then stop to think about with all the wonderful ideas to help to make changes!

    Your creativity and exuberance shine like a beacon. I am sure that you will inspire many.

    I will be glad to help you in whatever way I can.

    Love you all ,

  5. Hi Dear Ones,
    I LOVE traveling with you this way! Your adventures, both inner and outer, are very inspiring!
    Isn’t it cool how when your heart is moved to help– then ALL sorts of ideas come flying in to support your intention??
    I send my Loving hugs as you continue this amazing family experience,

  6. Dear Max, Emma, Patty, and Josh, I am SO IMPRESSED by your journey, your explorations, and your decisions! This is SO EXCITING!! I can’t wait to learn more about your activism! As for the Halloween photos, all I have to say is EW! CREEPY!! Warm love, Jan xxx

  7. Dear Max and Emma,
    It’s great to read about your noble goal and your passion for saving the orangutans…All the best!

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