WAKA stands for World Association of Kids and Animals. It’s our way to share positive, inspiring stories about kids around the world active in wild animal rescue and conservation projects.
We seek to share stories of young people, maybe not so different from you and your friends, who truly care about animals and want to find ways to help protect endangered wild animals whose habitats are shrinking and whose precious lives are threatened in too many ways.
These stories shine a light on young people who are kind, caring, and active in a wide variety of conservation projects … in many cases on a small-scale, grassroots level.
These stories are seeds. We hope they will inspire you to think about ways you and your family … or friends … or classmates … can envision with something you can do, in a small way, to help protect wild creatures who might need a helping hand.
Think globally. Act locally. If each of us does something, we can make a difference in the world.
The first book in this series is Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon. A true story of a 10-year-old girl living on an island in the Amazon rainforest region of Peru who rescues endangered animals, it is being officially released on Earth Day (April 22), 2015. Pre-sales begin at the end of March.
There are five more books planned to come out this year. We will be publishing inspiring stories of kids in Costa Rica saving sea turtles, a boy in Thailand who lives at an elephant refuge, and several stories from Africa.
A Message from Cathleen Burnham, founder of the WAKA series
I am often asked how this story and book series came about. Here’s the story behind the story.
A few years ago, our family vacationed in the Amazon. We spent pre-dawn hours scanning the jungle for jaguars and monkeys and the rivers for pink dolphins.
As we slowly motored along a tributary, we passed an island on which a red uacari swung on a wooden railing. A pair of saddle-backed tamarinds chased each other over two tree stumps. A spider monkey sat in a small patch of grass in the dirt-swept yard of a stilted hut.
We asked our guide to stop there but he said, “Oh, no. That’s a private home.” He went on to say, “That family takes in orphaned and endangered monkeys on their own. They raise them and set them free again.”
What? Our family loves animals. We begged until the guide agreed to contact the owners. “I’ll ask,” he said with a shrug.
Next day, miraculously, we were invited to visit. Stepping onto the island, we met a young girl with one saddle-backed tamarind on her head and one perched on her shoulder. My kids were in awe that this girl, Doyli, spent her days caring for such rare creatures. I thought other kids might be interested in her story, and the idea of a book came to me. We returned to Doyli’s island several more times, documenting her life and her care of the monkeys.
I started thinking that there might be other kids around the world like Doyli: young people doing what they can to protect local wild animals.
It turns out there are. As a documentary photographer, I’ve been privileged to be allowed to meet, interview, and photograph such kids going about their daily activities. Each child is fortunate to attend a school, just like kids you know, and has a loving family. And they do what they can, sometimes on their own, often with family and neighbors’ assistance, to find a way to help wild animals thrive.
These stories shine a light on models of small-scale activism: young people who are kind, caring, and involved.
Stories like these are small seeds. Maybe you and your family or friends can come up with something you can do, in a small way, to help protect other creatures who might need a helping hand.
WAKA stands for World Association of Kids and Animals. It’s a way to share stories of kids – young people not so different from you and your friends – who found a way to get involved and help protect wild animals.