Sydney brothers Daniel and William Clarke have recently been recognised by President Barack Obama for efforts to save orang-utans.
As featured recently on ABC's Australian story, 'Tears in the Jungle' is the inspiring story of two remarkable brothers, Daniel Clarke (15) and William Clarke (13), and their quest to save the orang-utans of Borneo and Sumatra. Despite Daniel having cerebral palsy and being mostly confined to a wheelchair, over the past five years these inspiring brothers have managed to;
Raise more than $600,000 to save the orangutans in the wild.
Travelled to Indonesia and trekked through the jungles of Borneo to see the orangutanin the wild (wheelchairand all) with the financial support of an anonymous sponsor.
Self-publish their story titled TearsInTheJungle, to educate children around Australia on the issues facing the critically endangered orangutans
Sponsored 7,000 acres of jungle from proceeds from the sale of their book
Inspire a country by featuring on ABC's Australian Story on the 12th March 2012 - "The Book of Daniel"
Have spoken at schools, conferences, festivals and business functions inspiring children and adults alike with their story and amazing achievements.
Prior to President Barack Obama's visit to Australia in November last year Daniel and William sent a copy of their book via the US Embassy in Canberra. In April this year, the delighted boys received a brown paper envelope which was marked, 'United States of America Official Business'.
Daniel and William's mother Penny said, "I saw who it was from and my heart skipped a beat!"
Inside was a letter addressed to the boys from the President himself thanking them for the copy of their book, saying, "…I look forward to working together to the benefit of our two nations, and to strengthening the bonds between our people."
The boys have now received an invitation from the United States Ambassador to Australia, Mr Jeffrey Bleich, to meet with him at the US Embassy in Canberra where they will discuss Daniel and William's quest to save the orang-utan and inspire the children of the world to follow their own passion.
To read the full story see their website: http://tearsinthejungle.com/2012/04/a-letter-from-the-president/
Youngest Ambassadors to the 2012 National Year of Reading
Daniel and William were also thrilled to be invited to become the youngest Ambassadors for the 2012 National Year of Reading.
"Daniel and I share a great passion for reading and we believe that the National Year of Reading is an excellent initiative for people to become involved in, and discover their own love of reading," said William.
"Our nanna always said to us, 'Learn to read first and then you can read to learn'. We hope we can share our passion for reading with other kids so they can also develop a love of reading for themselves."
On the 25th August this year Daniel and William are looking forward to taking part in 'The Reading Hour' an event that is part of the National Year of Reading, just like 'Earth Hour' but with a focus on reading.
Tears In The Jungle: A Children's Adventure to Save The Orangutan, is self-published and can be purchased through TearsInTheJungle.com.
Money raised from the sale of the book is donated by Daniel and William to orang-utan rescue, rehabilitation and release programs as well as habitat protection initiatives.
Question: What originally inspired you to begin raising money to save the orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra?
William and Daniel Clarke: Steve Irwin always inspired me and when he died I knew I had to do something to save the orangutans. This is what gave me the initial motivation to start to do something.
Question: What have you both overcome to selflessly raise money for the orangutans in the wild?
Daniel Clarke: Both William and I have a great group of close friends and we love spending time with them (as much as possible). Our friends understand that we have to act now and do as much as we can to save the orangutans as they only have 6-10 years left in the wild. We have to overcome spending time with our friends on the weekend and in the holidays to create awareness of what is happening to the orangutan as this issue is so important.
Our friends really support us in what we are doing.
Question: How did it feel to receive a letter from US President Barak Obama in April 2012, congratulating you on your efforts?
William and Daniel Clarke: When mum opened the letter and told me it was from President Barack Obama my first reaction was, "OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG"! It was as if my mind went blank waiting to see what he said on the paper.
It was great that he took the time out of his day to write such a wonderful letter to us. It has really inspired us to keep going.
Question: Can you tell us about your story, Tears In The Jungle?
William Clarke: Writing the book took 18 months to achieve because both Daniel and I had to sort through over 2,500 photos to work out what ones we wanted in the book. We also had to get past our little 'brotherly arguments' that we had over different aspects of the books layout.
Question: How did it feel, watching yourselves on ABC's Australian story, 'Tears in the Jungle'?
William and Daniel Clarke: It was really weird watching myself on Australian Story because half the stuff that I said in my interview I couldn't remember so it was a surprise how they edited it together. I think we all sat in front of the TV cringing each time one of us heard our own voices.
Question: Daniel, Bear Grylls spoke so highly of you, how does that feel to be respected by him?
Daniel Clarke: It is amazing to think that someone such as Bear Grylls could think of us that highly. It was unbelievable.
Question: How does it feel to be the youngest Ambassadors for the 2012 National Year of Reading?
William and Daniel Clarke: It was a great moment when we received the invitation to become National Ambassadors. They said that we are the youngest Ambassadors they have ever had. It's really cool to see our names up with famous authors such as Andy Griffiths, Anh Do and Bryce Courtney as well as famous politicians.
Question: What does being an ambassador for the 2012 National Year of Reading , mean to you?
William and Daniel Clarke: It's a great opportunity to know that we can help inspire other children to start reading and encourage them to develop a love of reading.
Our family have always encouraged us to read and our Nanna always said to us, "You first learn to read and then you read to learn".
We are looking forward to being able to promote reading, through our book "Tears In The Jungle", as we have written it for kids.
Our book is available through our website TearsInTheJungle.com
Question: What future plans do you have to continue to raise money?
William and Daniel Clarke: Our plan is to create more awareness around our book as money raised from the sale of our book goes towards orangutan rescue, rehabilitation and release programs as well as habitat protection programs.
So far we have raised enough money to sponsor over 7,000 acres of endangered orangutan habitat in Borneo.
Question: How can other child help you in raising money for the orangutans?
William and Daniel Clarke: Other children who would like to help us can go to the following charities that we support. They can donate money or adopt an orangutan through:The Orangutan Project: www.orangutan.org.au
Borneo Orangutan Survival: www.orangutan.com.au
Orangutan Foundation International: www.orangutan.org
Every little bit helps…
Interview by Brooke Hunter