Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Pipes, parangs, and peanuts in Pinapak

by Ed Ptilidi

Kampung Pinapak, in the Pitas District, was the second project site I was scheduled to visit in Phase 1, and after spending a week with Alpha 1 in Mapan Mapan, the expectations were high. You could not help but compare the two sites, the teams, and the projects they had been handed.

I was lucky enough to catch a lift to the site with Drew Boshell from the Asian Forestry Company (AFC), Raleigh's project partner for Pinapak. While enjoying the air-conditioned ride to the kampung, I was filled in by Drew on the details of the project. The gravity water feed system in this kampung would be the first one of 54 that AFC were looking to support with infrastructure development and land rights issues, as the company plans to set up sustanable forestry operations in the area. Raleigh would be involved in subsequent projects, so it was important to ensure Pinapak's success.

Tasked with managing the job were PMs Tony Adamson and Bobby Rebeiro. Joining a team that has already been working together for a week could have been difficult, but the Alpha 2 guys made me feel really welcome, and I was basically involved in everything the team did.

What struck me about this project was not just the planning that it required, but its sheer physical demands. Shovelling river rocks and sand into bags and taking them hundreds of metres uphill to the dam site, or moving the bags of concrete and the water pipes that Drew and his team had delivered on their trucks - it was not easy. It made you sweat, a lot. It made you run out of puff half way up the hill.. It made most of your muscles ache the next day. But at the end of the day, you felt like you'd definitely earnt your Raleigh rations dinner, or that swim in the river, or a game of soccer with the locals (who were unavoidably better at the game, but team spirit and enthusiasm always ran strong in Alpha 2). There was also the joy of consuming numerous deserts that T&T aka Trusha and Tom would create and unleash onto their ever-insatiable team mates every night.

It was also obvious that the team and their project were on target and perhaps ahead of the schedule. In the second week of the phase we finished the concrete dam, started on building the site for a massive water tank which would create enough water pressure, and laid the pipes between the two sites. With the work being so physical, it was much easier to work in the morning, take a reasonable break over lunch, and then work for another couple of hours in the afternoon.

But perhaps what struck me the most in Pinapak was the relationship between the project team and the locals - they were like two good neighbours living side by side. Alpha 2 venturers would teach English to the kids at the school and play games during their breaks. A local woman, who has lived in Pinapak all her life, took us to plant some peanuts on her land, and then to harvest some of she'd planted a few weeks earlier, and prepared them for us in a traditional way by boiling them with some sugar. Alpha 2's glory had crossed the kampung's boundaries and we were invited to a wedding at a nearby Christian village. They were people we did not know, but they nevertheless invited us in like honoured guests, and then offerred us a meal which consisted of a soup with pork fat and rice. Many villagers turned up to a meeting that Alpha 2 organised to tell them what Raleigh and their project were about. Luckily, we had Yeinn who could speak Malay and translate, and also taugh us a traditional Malay song we sang to the villagers at the end. By the time I had to return to Fieldbase, the PMs were also in the process of organising homestays in the Kampung for the venturers to experience the traditional Sabah way of life.

The second week of the phase had disappeared, and it was time to leave Pinapak and Alpha 2 with the Loop vehicle. I have no doubt these guys will complete their project on time (I am looking forward to the official opening of the water feed), and get the most out of their time with Raleigh.

Here are just some photos Dom and I have taken while at Pinapak:

4x4s deliver hundreds of meters of water pipes over the Pinapak bridge

Bobby gets caught in a water pipe bundle

Fun with concrete: Alpha 2 building the water dam

It's not just peanuts: venturers learn how to plant the nuts in a traditinal way. Who knew they don't grow on trees?..

Yeinn and Jack are being shown how to harvest the peanuts by a local woman

Children help to wash our harvest in the river afterwards

Alpha 2 girls playing a game with the school kids during their break

Dareeana and myself surrounded by Pinapak's school kids.

Drew from AFC explains to the team how their project fits into the big picture


~LuYi~ said...

dear Dino,
how's kampung life? i bet u enjoy playing with the kids, coz u're 1 too.. haha
take care n have fun, get out there!


zhimin said...

huiyein kong,
cool!!can eat bahkutteh n peanut somemore!!haha,i wan 2 c ur muscle!!
aza fighting!!

lurve letter on the way,

Anonymous said...

Whats good Russ dot (jack) its fionn bruv when u back write back if u get this safe

Anonymous said...

Hey Wink's looks like you & the Alpha 2 posse' are enjoying your projects..Not sure if you got my last comment...Luv Ya!!

Peace Mom

Anonymous said...

Wink's Check you out....helping out school children...kool, looks like an awesome experience.

Peace.. Mom

Hitesh said...

Dear Trusha,
Hello. I hope you received our letter. I find the work you are involved in is really amazing. Brilliant. You looked great and relaxed. I hope the leeches have left you alone. The river water banks are where they could most likely be around. Take Care,
Love You, Dad

Anonymous said...

Hey Winks, It's Auntie looks like your haveing a great time out there, you look hot!! having fun with the kids it looks like.
I love you. Have fun and spread the love babes.
Peace..Aunite Fea

Anonymous said...

Hi Cal
Back at home and everything is upside down with Rich and Mikes things everywhere and will get worse before it gets better. Our deadline is to have it all straight by the time you get back so we might just be okay! K gets back from NY tomorrow morning so the house just keeps getting fuller. Pasha is still misbehaving....but Mowgli and Rich have bonded. He got a bird and a small rabbit as presents when we were away.
Lots of love
Mum xxx

Susan Fuller said...

Hi Rosie babe love mum and dad

Hitesh said...

Dear Trusha
I hope all is well on your second phase. The trek and diving must be great. Monty is just fine and our parrot is learning new words all the time.
Maadhav sends his love and regards for Raksha bandhan. Minnie has moved to Countess of Chester Hospital for the second stint in Radiology. She is to come home to tie Maadhav his rakhi. She will tie one on your behalf.
Take Care,
Love You, Hitesh

Anonymous said...

dear raleigh,
thanks for visiting my village "PINAPAK". so, hows u all feel in my village?? it's so poor right??

Anonymous said...

dear raleigh,
thanks for visiting my village "PINAPAK". so, hows u all feel in my village?? it's so poor right??