My story is pretty short— from intern to reservation officer. That’s it! Although if told elaborately, this is how it would be told.
I had always wanted to work with a conservation organization that had a back ground of sustainable tourism in it because that’s what I majored in as a graduate until I found chimpanzee trust.
I started as an intern assisting in monitoring and evaluation Hoima field office. While there I learnt a lot about conservation, solving conflict resolution with communities and conducted Change My Community programs but I wasn’t satisfied.
Until I was moved to the head office in Entebbe for my second part of the training and for the first time I encountered sustainable tourism in Ngamba. Here we dealt with tourists but our main focus was the wildlife.
I loved the way the care givers did their work, they’d talk to chimps, call their names and the chimps would actually respond to them and also the way the care givers would hold the chimps hands. That was all new to me. The way the reservation officer responded to inquiries, interacted with guests. All that made me want to stay forever. That is how I went from Intern to Reservation officer in 2015 when an opportunity availed itself.
I was called back for an interview for the position of Reservation Officer and since I had interned here before, I had grown more in the skills of guest handling, I had a great working relationship with my former colleagues and also wanted to be part of the chimp experience forever.
As our organization saying goes, ‘once you take part in the chimpanzee experience, it is hard to get over it. That’s why I’m here and that’s why most of us are still here.
Irene Atuhairwe is a graduate with a honors degree in Arts with a major in Tourism from Makerere University and currently the Reservation Officer Of Chimpanzee Trust.