Kampung (meaning village) Timbang Batu is located approximately 2 KM radius or 4.5km by road from Camp Tinangol. There are about 500 estimated population in this Rungus community. 2013, was the year when we first visited this village through our local relations from Tinangol after an informal invitation. Like all of our permanent camps we took time to get to know our neighbours in building a long lasting relationship. On our initial visits to Timbang Batu, we were introduced to Willie who is a farmer, crab catcher and clams gatherer. We had a walkabout around the area taking in all the natural surroundings whilst listening to Willie chatting away about this place we never knew about until that day.
Living by the mangrove area Willie takes pride of knowing the importance of conserving it as much of the local rungus handycraft and building materials to build traditional longhouses came from this mangrove. However, there is lack of materials for the building of longhouses from the areas nearby. One of the reasons given is the over use or non sustainable use of such materials. After a few subsequent visits identifying the issues, meeting more people in the village, identifying the stakeholders including the Ketua Kampung (chief of village), we came to an agreement to try assist the villagers to help manage their resources better, to sustain their livelihood and help preserve their culture.
Towards the end of 2014, we have initiated an awareness programme for mangrove conservation through our gap programme at Tinangol. This however are only visits understanding the importance and seeing why we should protect our mangroves and in the hope of becoming the local citizen scientists (also sometimes described as “public participation in scientific research”). Mangrove forests and estuaries are the breeding and nursery grounds for a number of marine organisms including the commercially important shrimp, crab and fish species. Did you know that Mangroves are now looked after by scientists as saviors in the today’s scenario of global warming? There’s so much to learn and understand the reasons why we need to conserve it! It takes time to get this programme off the ground but we still continue with our efforts to the next stage; currently in the process of getting our staff in more advanced training in mangrove preservation and to be able to share the knowledge with stakeholders and to visitors.
Our initiatives and relations with Timbang Batu continues through our mutual agreements on assisting them with their community infrastructure development. Abner, who is part of our Operations Support team, took the time out of office and shares his experience starting of the year going on a trip with a group of Gap Year volunteers to Timbang Batu.
It’s been a great start for Camp Borneo having over 20 gap volunteers who signed up programmes in the month of January to March. They traveled to various parts of Sabah. Experienced the culture and living in traditional homes and hammocks in the jungle.
My first job assignment in January was to travel with our volunteers and get stuck in the projects and activities, documenting the progress as we went along. On the first day of gap arrivals we started our journey to Camp Tinangol from Kota Kinabalu by bus and three hours drive north of Kota Kinabalu. I was with the group for one week. As soon as we arrived, we were briefed by Kenny (Camp Tinangol, manager) about the projects that is going on nearby. The goal was to complete the water feed project we have started from last year so we can connect water to locals who needs them.
During the week, we had teared down an old abandoned community centre as well. The community centre at Timbang Batu is in a poor state of repair and has been abandoned as the community did not have enough funding to complete it. The framework and supports to the building are rotten. Much community engagements and building of relationships with the folks here before a decision was made to knock it all down with the intention to build a new one from scratch.
So within three days of project work, we managed to knock down the community centre and it’s ready to be rebuild again with a stronger structure. Clearing of the foundation area started on January and it will be continued to completion with regular volunteers coming through to the village via Camp Tinangol. A public toilet has also been proposed adding on to the layout plan.
Why community centre?
Local Community Centres generally perform many functions as follows:
– used for all-community celebrations at various occasions such as weddings, birthdays, achievements and much more
– place for public meetings of the community on various issues.
– place where community members meet each other socially.
– place where they could display the village background and history to visitors
We hope to see more volunteers from around the world this year and help out in the ongoing projects in Borneo. Your help can make a huge difference to the community. All of the finished projects have helped to provide support , helped to run their own small businesses, helped to improve their well-being, and long-lasting benefits.
Our constant community engagement and focus on building a strong relationship fosters a sense of belonging, individuals becomes empowered and proactive with regard to issues that affect them. I hope to share more stories and more project updates from this lovely community of Timbang Batu and its village as we progress.
Country Manager, Borneo