Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Alpha 2 built a kindergarten..and now it's OPEN!

The village of Lingkabugan now has a kindergarten. Yesterday, we headed out with our sponsors Nestle, project partners Asian Foresty Company (AFC) and Malaysian media to open the building that has been built by Alpha 2 over the last nine weeks. Watch a video of the kindergarten being opened on YouTube now.

Nestle provided the funding for the kindergarten and we have built the much needed building in partnership with AFC so that there is a dedicated learning place for children under 6.
In Malaysia, children have to pass an exam to get into primary school at age 6 and so pre-school education is vital.

AFC run regular workshops with Lingkabugan’s community and a kindergarten has been much needed. We repaired the village’s gravity water feed in Spring 2010 and were warmly welcomed back to build the kindergarten.
Over the last nine weeks, we’ve had three groups working at Alpha 2 led by Project Managers Joe and Claire and medics Nick, Jemma in phase one and two and Ann for phase three. The Raleigh house is well and truly part of the 50 households that make up the village.

In the last week, Alpha 2 have worked tirelessly in the last week to complete the kindergarten in time for the opening ceremony.  They have also battled with the weather – heavy rainfall over the last few weeks has made the journey into the remote village very difficult. The group trekked part of the way into the village when they arrived a week ago and the last Alpha 2 team trekked part of the way out of the village when they headed back for changeover because the road was too treacherous for 4x4s.
Andy from our logs team packs the Bravo up with goodies from Nestle for the village. And a few spades.

Our team from Fieldbase set off with Nestle, media and the local district politician and their officials yesterday morning, warning that the journey would at best involve a lot of bumps and mud and at worst be completed on foot, if at all.

A couple of hours into thick mud and a with some of the vehicles stuck already, we decided not to risk taking the Raleigh Bravo any further and together with our project partners AFC, trekked into the village. Journalists piled into the back of 4x4s and representatives from Nestle and the local politician’s office made it in the few monster vehicles. Two hours late we got to the village to open the kindergarten.

Leo and Frazer trekked out to meet us, ready with spades to help make the road easier to drive through.

Journalists packed into the back of one of the 4x4s that could make the treacherous journey.

PM Joe: It's time to get our and trek, team!
The journey was important – it really highlighted to the media , Nestle and to the visitng YB (local councilor) how difficult the road is and why a kindergarten is so needed in the village.  Journalists covering the story for Sabah media were impressed and inspired by the effort, hard work and perseverance of the Raleigh group and struck by the bond between Raleigh and people in Lingkabugan.

We did it!
Sarah, our Country Programme Manager with Puan Zainun Nur Abdul Rauf, Executive Director of Human Resource and Group Corporate Affairs for Nestle Malaysia open the kindergarten.
 Alpha 2 with the kindergarten they have worked tirelessly to finish over the last few days. The scarves worn by the girls were made by local women who performed a dance with Tarnya, Anne, Claire, Wietske, Emily, Saar and Cloe at the opening ceremony.

Local children eager to see inside the kindergarten.

The kindergarten will make a difference in Lingkabugan for generations to come.

Andy and Oli sort out the Nestle products brought in for the village.

Jamie from Alpha 2 gives us an insight into the last week in Lingkabugan and what the group have planned for the remaining week of expedition...

5am “Guys, time to get up” Cloe, our day leader today is standing at the foot of the team’s sleeping area urging us to get up and get ready for the work on the kindergarten.

Ok, it’s pitch black outside but on the plus side, in about 30 minutes, we can enjoy our morning porridge overlooking the glow of a sunrise.

Starting this early isn’t an everyday occurrence (we’ve been assured by the Project Managers) but the clock is ticking until our deadline.

Today the loop (Raleigh fieldbase team) will be arriving in Lingkabugan at 9am along with the kindergarten sponsors for its opening ceremony, a week and a half before the end of the expedition.
For Alpha 2, we arrived unexpecting of the work that was in store for us.

The extent of work was transforming four walls and foundations and a route to a fully operating kindergarten, civil engineer certified.

This has included building walls for partitions, floors, ceiling, windows and painting and installing doors. Over the past week Alpha 2 have been working around the clock on the work site to meet the deadline.

On top of the heavy workload, we have still found time to teach English to the children, play football and if you are lucky enough to be one of the girls, performing a local dance with women of the village at the Sunday church service which brought down the house.

So far, phase three has been an intense but rewarding experience but it doesn’t stop after the opening ceremony.

Joe, Claire and Ann reassured us that there is plenty more tasks for us to further improve the village from building toilet blocks to water tank supports (they hold over 400 litres).

Also, the village is now abuzz, eagerly anticipating sports day. Cloe, Saar, Tarnya and Emily have taken up the challenge of organising a day of sack and egg and spoon races. So that should be enough to keep us occupied over the remaining week and a half before expedition ends and we begin our journeys home or further abroad.

Next week Alpha 1 will open their kindergarten in Kampung Alab and we’ll report back from that.

Raleigh volunteer's childrens book inspired by Sun Bear project

Previous Raleigh Borneo Project Manager Joyce Malmo has written a children's book inspired by her time volunteering on Alpha 4's project at the Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Animals – Stories from Across the World is the base for the exciting project Story4Environment aimed at bringing environmental education to schools and homes through animal stories.

The Sun Bear Conservation Centre was set up to care for and rehabilitate Sun Bears who had been illegally removed from the forest. We've been working at the centre since 2009, building an infrastructure for it to open as a tourist centre. It is due to open to the public next year. 
This is a wonderful way of spreading the word to the next generation about the importance of taking care of the environment in general and specifically the Sun Bear. Read more about it on the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre blog.