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Meet the Corona crew !
Episode 6 : Zak

After 3 months of helping us out in the jungle, Zak unfortunately had to leave due to obligations at home but since Zak was an important part of the ‘Corona Crew’, we would also like to introduce Zak to you!

Zak is 19 years old and comes from England. Even though he really missed his Guinness and gravy from home, he decided to stay at EV during the Corona pandemic. When we asked him why, he said: “I would be in lockdown without being able to see anyone or do anything. I don’t understand why I would want to be there if I could be in a place with monkeys playing on my roof every morning. It’s such an amazing environment to be in!” 

His co-volunteers will remember him for a lot of things but most importantly how he made breakfast for everyone! Scrambled eggs or pancakes might have been waiting for you when you enter the kitchen in the morning. Of course Zak will also be remembered for his love for Alaya, a baby Howler Monkey, and his favorite extra job, the bananas!

What did you love about being at EV?

What I loved about being there is waking up with monkeys playing on the rooftop every morning, post tea (dinner) games and chats, Cumala saying hello every morning, that wildlife is everywhere and I loved cooking with everyone!

What is your favourite meal?

Curry with something extra like samosas or naan bread “nom nom”.

What was your favourite activity/job at EV?

Bananas! Also loved leaf walks.

What was your favourite thing to do on a day off?

Big brekky with other people off, going to Bello Horizonte or to the waterfall – pretty standard.

What was your favourite animal/species?

Howlers- Alaya <3

What did you miss from home?

Guinness, watching cricket on tv.

What did you learn during your stay?

Finding a use for everything: bottle tops for a homemade game, reusing oil for cleaning and rum bottles as a candle holder. It opened my eyes a bit on how things can be used in many different ways, so you have less waste. Also, I learned cooking with limited ingredients.

What didn’t you expect about EV before going there?

The amount of time that I would be using a knife per working day.

Why did you choose to stay at EV instead of going home in this Corona time?

Because I would be in lockdown without being able to see anyone or do anything. I don’t understand why I would want to be there if I could be in a place with monkeys playing on my roof every morning. It’s such an amazing environment to be in!

How Zak is remembered by the other volunteers:

Craig about Zak: resident genius, go to guy for language enquiries and can divide a cake into 15 equal pieces.

Puck about Zak: never complains and works very hard, rocks Carla’s pants, him making scrambled eggs for everybody in the morning, how you can always have a funny/nice/interesting conversation with him.

Emma about Zak: it’s nice to have a reminder of home when you’re so far away from your family, even if he is slowly ruining my English. Always very happy to help, even if I do give him the really horrible jobs when we cook together. I’ll miss our nightly hammock chats, too.

Kim about Zak: being as English as possible, his face when seeing Alaya, taste of music, the red elephant pants, washing his earphones, gravy & Guinness, always checking how you are doing.

Carmen about Zak: “excuse me” “sorry” “thank you”, Guinness, the nicest British/Scottish guy ever, with a perfect accent. He really cares about all the animals and about the other volunteers, he’s always looking for getting to know you better and better. Really funny boy, especially when he dances with Rafiki or when he looks at his girlfriend. When Zak is in a room and you talk about Alaya, his face just lights up.

Emile about Zak: So polite. So helpful. So generous. A really good guy.

Meet the Corona crew !
Episode 5 : Geiler

Geiler is one of the permanent workers at EV and a very important part of the Corona Crew. According to himself, his most important job is getting bananas and papayas for the animals, but in fact he does a lot more for this project. After working here for 6 years already, he knows almost everything at EV. He is always there to help out when there is a problem, he is indispensable for the constructions of new enclosures and if necessary he also helps out with the animals.

Do you want to learn more about Geiler ? Read the full interview ! :

When did you start to work in EV?

I started to work here in June 2014

Why did you start to work in EV?

Because I loved the work and I also wanted to keep getting to know all the animals.

What is your main job here in EV?

Right now my main job is getting bananas and papayas for the animals.

What do you like about the jungle?

What I love the most about the jungle is all the animal life in it.

What is the hardest part of working here in EV?

I don’t really have any hard work in EV, it’s all for a good cause!

What do you like about the work in EV?

I like that I can learn a lot, that I have many different experiences and that I get to know new ways of working.

What is your favorite job?

I like building cages more than other stuff but I don’t really have a favorite job.

Do you like having contact with the volunteers, and if yes, why?

Yes, its genius and I like talking and sharing all kinds of experiences.

Would you like to do the volunteers job for a week?

Yes I would like that.

What is your opinion about the trafficking of animals?

I think that the government should make stricter decisions so that the people understand that animals are a not to be used as goods, that we should respect animal life and that animals should stay in their own habitat.

Meet the Corona crew !
Episode 4 : Marlon

We find ourselves in a unique situation at EV with a very stable crew: the whole team has been here for at least 3 months now! We would like to introduce you to this ‘Corona Crew’, today we get to know Marlon!

Marlon (10) is the son of Douwe and Olivia and was born at Esperanza Verde, so he lived in Peru his whole life. Growing up in the jungle, he got to know the surroundings of EV very well and he also learned a lot about the plants, fruits and animals of this region. Therefore, the volunteers are very happy if Marlon comes with them on leaf walks, since there will always be some fruits found to eat, new paths to discover or new fun facts to learn. Marlon is also always happy to lend a hand if volunteers need help catching fish, finding tortoise-leaves or if they are looking for a game-buddy on their day off.

Here comes the rest his interview:

What do you like about the jungle?

The trees and the animals.

What is your favorite animal/species?

Dogs.

What is the most annoying/difficult thing about living here?

There are no friends nearby. I can’t just go to the neighborhood kids and play.

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Watch movies, play games on Nintendo/phone. But if someone wants to fish, I like to do that.

What do you do first when you go to the Netherlands?

If there is snow, I would play with it. I also like swimming or playing pinball at my grandparents house.

Do you like it not going to school for a year because of Corona?

No, at school there are friends and I have a break.

What would you do with 5000 soles?

I would buy an indestructible drone with a camera.

What is the best present you ever got for your birthday?

A triple drone (boat, car and drone in one).

What is your favorite meal?

Pasta white sauce a la Manish (a luxurious hotel in Pucallpa).

Meet the Corona crew !
Episode 3 : Kayla

We find ourselves in a unique situation at EV with a very stable crew: the whole team has been here for at least 3 months now! We would like to introduce you to this ‘Corona Crew’, today in the spotlight: Kayla!

Kayla (15) is the daughter of Douwe and Olivia. She was born in Ecuador and moved with her parents to Peru when she was 5 years old. Last year Kayla lived in Pucallpa to go to school there, but due to Corona this year she moved back to EV. This is unlucky for her but the volunteers are very pleased with this situation: Kayla is an excellent cook and she provides us with the best lunch meals every weekday now!

Here comes the rest her interview:

What do you like about the jungle?

I suppose it is the simplicity but at the same time the complicated way of life itself in the jungle. The way everything inside the jungle has a role to play. Yet it’s still as simple as instinct (I hope you understand what I mean).

What is your favorite animal/species?

Capuchins because they are incredibly smart and just a tad evil, plus they have very complicated characters and never forget someone that treats them well. But also squirrel monkeys because they are amazing, small, beautiful and very loyal, fierce and brave.  

What did you learn by growing up in the jungle?

Lots of things: empathy, love for anything and everything. You learn to be strong in many aspects. But I guess one of the most important ones is learning to appreciate the simple things and make do with what you got (although that is more something you learn by living in the village).

Can you give an example of a Dutch personality trait you developed because you were raised by Dutch parents? 

Not really, it is so mixed that I couldn’t tell where I got certain traits from. I may have developed an open mind.

What do you like about living in Peru compared to the Netherlands?

Everything! I love the heat, the warm culture, and the traditions that are full of love, the kindness of the people, the simple way of life, the way we just take everything as it comes in Peru and worry about it when we get there. I don’t like the cold culture in the Netherlands that much. The fact that people care more about just going through the days and don’t stop at the simple things anymore. I also don’t like the way that everyone just cares about themselves in the trains or in the streets.

What would make EV nicer in your opinion?

Hard question… I think, a better separation between the enclosures and the buildings, better quality and setup inside the volunteer house (in an architectural kind of way) and maybe some more contact with the local culture (up until a certain point).

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Definitely read and cook. If a book is really good, you’ll see me walking around with it for a while.

What do you do first when you go to the Netherlands?

Eat sausages, pickles and whipped cream. I know what you are thinking, and no, I do not eat them together. Oh, and I immediately miss the heat of Peru and properly cooked rice.

Do you see yourself living in Peru in the coming years? 

No.

What would you do with 5000 soles?

I would find a way to finance studies for my friends (don’t ask me how because I have absolutely no idea how to do that with only 5000 soles).

If you would have your own restaurant, what would definitely be on the menu?

Anticuchos (chicken or meat on sticks, chicken stomach, feet, liver, or heart), ceviche, arroz a la cubana, aji de gallina and cachangas.

Meet the Corona crew !
Episode 2 : Olivia

We find ourselves in a unique situation at EV with a very stable crew: the whole team has been here for at least 3 months now! We would like to introduce you to this ‘Corona Crew’, next up: Olivia!

Olivia founded Esperanza Verde 10 years ago with Douwe, and is still the passionate director of this place. Everybody who has ever been there will know that Olivia is an all-rounder and has a lot of different jobs to do at EV. In this Corona time, something can be added to this list: home schooling her son Marlon (often combined with some bookkeeping or other stuff though, as you can see in the picture).

One of the jobs Olivia always enjoys doing, is the preparation of the interior of a cage for a new animal. According to Olivia “It is a nice job, as it involves a bit of knowing the species and the individual. It should generally be grateful, and you can see the animal makes good use of what you did.”

Here comes the rest of her interview:

What do you love about EV?

I love living surrounded by animals. I love being able to do a lot of different things, and yes, I also like to clean cages- maybe not every day, although this is often the case (with baby animals in care at home). The variation is one of the most beautiful things of living here, it basically never gets boring.

What would have happened if you would have left for Africa instead of South America 10 years ago?

Well, Africa would never have been a choice for me, but let’s say…. Australia, as that was in my head at the time. I might have ended up working with kangaroos or koalas. I always believe that, if you work intensively with a species, they all grow special. This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time answering the question; which animal do I like most?

What didn’t you expect before starting EV?

In many ways I think I did expect what we have done so far- sounds maybe weird, but well, I am a bit of a control freak.

What are you most proud of?

Of course, I am very proud of our achievements in how we have been able to rescue so many animals. But most proud I am of the support group that we have behind us and EV. This is something we achieved in these years that is really amazing. EV is not only us and the volunteers, but a huge network of ex-volunteers, friends, family, and many professionals from different countries.

What is your favorite job/activity?

A difficult one, as there are many. One of the things I always enjoy doing is the interior of a cage, preparing it for a specific animal, like the sleeping box, branches and some enrichment. It is a nice job, as it involves a bit of knowing the species, the individual, observing it and you can see how grateful it is, as you can see the animal makes good use of what you did.

Would you like to have a month where you would just do the work volunteers do?

Yes. I had to think a bit, as maybe a month would be long, but if I add up what I do over the year, I think I easily come to way more than a month in doing the same work as volunteers. But I never do it everyday for a month, it is always in between, and that can be very hectic. So yes I would want to do it for a month, and then really only as a volunteer- but is that really possible still?

What is the most difficult thing about living here?

That everything gets fungus or cockroaches get to it! But maybe on a personal level, it gets lonely sometimes. The loneliness is sometimes hard, missing people that really know me and being able to meet them and talk about something not animal/work related. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to talk about animals, but I need a change every now and then.

If you could go back in time, would EV look very different?

Not much, but there is sometimes stuff that, retrospectively, we could have done differently like building the volunteer house a bit higher, so we don’t risk the river flooding it.

What will EV look like in 10 years?

Probably a bit bigger, and hopefully with a lot more surrounding land that we are protecting.

What would you do with 5000 soles (not to be spent EV related)?

When we can leave all together, use it for a holiday with the family.

What do you like to do on the weekend?

Sleep, read, watch a movie, make some pizza or bread (or something different).

Which memory at EV makes you laugh/happy?

There are many small moments, often to do with animals we raised and released and seeing them back after some time doing well. One animal that comes to my mind is Tupak, the white throated toucan we raised and released. We thought he went missing, most likely killed, but then he showed up after several weeks, and he did not even want me to come close…. Animals often surprise you, which is a good thing. More than once I have thought that an animal might not have made it….and then I was luckily proven wrong.

What animal is Douwe most like?

Not easy, after some thinking, I think a beaver is the one. Always building something.

What is the most recent thing you have learned?

That agoutis are very determined animals.

How did Corona influence this place in your eyes?

In general- so far not so much, as work just goes on as usual, as we are fairly isolated. However, it influences the group of volunteers a lot, as it is not changing, nobody leaving, no new ones coming. It has become a very tight group and it is beautiful to see how they deal with being so isolated, as contact with the outside world (family and friends) had to be restricted to a minimum.

Meet the Corona crew !
Episode 1 : Douwe

We find ourselves in a unique situation at EV with a very stable crew: the whole team has been here for at least 3 months now! We would like to introduce you to this ‘Corona Crew’, next up: Douwe!

Douwe came to the Peruvian jungle 10 years ago to start Esperanza Verde together with Olivia. Today he still is a proud director of EV and is involved in every project. What is he most proud of? “The animals we have been able to return to the wild.”


Douwe is a real handyman and, at least it looks like this for the volunteers, is able to fix everything. However, on the question ‘What is the most recent thing you have learned?’, Douwe answered: “Doing an interview is not as easy as it sounds.” Still, Douwe managed to answer all his questions :

What do you love about EV?

That it is in the middle of the jungle, with a lot of animals.

What would have happened if you would have left for Africa instead of South America 10 years ago?

I would not have left for Africa, as I was already there.

What didn’t you expect before starting EV?

I hoped it would be like it is now.

What are you most proud of?

The animals that we have been able to return to the wild.

What is your favorite job/activity?

Handling the animals, but of course only when there is sufficient cause for it.

Would you like to have a month where you would just do the work volunteers do?

No, been there, done that.

What is the most difficult thing about living here?

People, in my opinion, communication is so much more difficult than with animals.

If you could go back in time, would EV look very different?

No, but if I could go back and would have had 1 million dollars it might look different. I think I would have chosen a different spot, more suitable for state of the art construction and infrastructure.

What will EV look like in 10 years?

More or less the same, but probably a bit bigger.

What would you do with 5000 soles (not to be spent EV related)?

Buy some nice tools (no this is not EV related!).

What do you like to do on the weekend?

Relax, be more in the forest.

Which memory at EV makes you laugh/happy?

Mica (adult female capuchin monkey), finding Marlons water paint colors at the construction site while I was babysitting him. Colors everywhere….

What animal is Olivia most like?

A bee, always `buzzing` around everywhere

What is the most recent thing you have learned?

Doing an interview is not as easy as it sounds. But I continuously learn things….

How did Corona influence this place in your eyes?

The Management changed a lot. Daily life generally stays the same. The organizing of food and material- the administration got a lot more complicated.

Support our crowdfunding campaign !

The current situation has affected life on the whole planet and has changed the way we live. The lockdown is strictly enforced in Peru.
Our priority is the health and safety of our volunteers and employees, who are essential for the daily care of the animals on site. We are in close contact with the different embassies and we were able to support around half of the volunteers in their return home.

At Esperanza Verde, this means reduced support. With forward-thinking, planning and the generous help of the current volunteers, we can ensure that our animals are well cared for. We are well prepared in terms of expertise for such a situation but need financial support to keep our work going.
Volunteers play a crucial role not only in caring for the animals, but also for covering parts of the animal food with their fees. Right now planning to join us in the rainforest is not an option for prospective volunteers. Losing this crucial support makes international help more important than ever before.