Camps Ambassador Hannah spent a jam-packed month volunteering with Camps International before university. She tells us all about the sensational sunsets, tireless teamwork and hanging out with orangutans in the beautiful island of Borneo.
I am now back to the normality of home life; however, I crave more adventures like Borneo. This month-long experience consisted of five different but beautiful camps with lovely people to support and guide along the way. It was challenging to accumulate the money needed however, the support from my family and Camps international alike was priceless.
I flew to Kota Kinabalu and took in the culture, atmosphere and temperature. As the culture is so different to ours it took a while to get used to but because the country is such a beautiful one this wasn’t hard for me. Exploring Kota Kinabalu and the start and end of the trip was lovely as we were able to pick up mementos of the journey.
My team and I went to Camp Bongkud where we stayed for seven days. Here we were mixing concrete to help build a new kindergarten and a walkway along the road so pedestrians could be safer. In one two-hour session our team managed to mix and lay six batches of concrete and in one session eight batches (a record for a team our size). Even though in the heat this was very hard work, at the end of a day when you saw how much you had completed it was the best feeling imaginable, knowing you were helping to change lives for a community.
Although I say all the camps we stayed in were amazing, Camp Mantanani holds a special place in my heart. The sunset was by far the most outstanding I have ever seen: the colours, the reflection on the water and the silhouettes of islands in the distance amounted to something that words do not do justice to. My journey was not all glamour though as hard work was on the horizon, but with tough work comes great reward! Seeing the village people come to help and appreciate what was being made for them was rewarding enough. It was amazing to know just how much the community would benefit and thrive with what was being created for them.
The jungle was as close to nature as you could get. The hammocks were probably my favourite form of bed as they were relaxing and cosy and felt so safe despite the unfamiliar surroundings. Here we helped plant trees to repopulate the jungle. This gave me a great sense of accomplishment because not only were we helping the immediate surroundings, but planting trees means there is less CO2 in our environment which helps the planet as a whole. After the jungle came Sepilok Sanctuary, the home of Orangutans and Sun Bears. I couldn’t believe the cuteness of these fuzzy creatures as they swung from tree to tree. The importance of this place lies in their rehabilitation of the species, so they can go back into the wild and repopulate.
Throughout the various camps one thing remained the same; the night sky. Seeing the southern hemisphere of stars and thinking that it may be the only time in my life that I get to see them made me really appreciate where I was.
We are currently running over 20 different projects in Borneo, ranging from jungle reforestation and conservation to building classrooms and community halls. Join one of our volunteer trips from 2 weeks to 3 months to get involved in amazing projects like these and visit some of the world’s most beautiful rural locations.
Click here to view all our Borneo programmes.