Learning about my own country as a Raleigh volunteer

15th August 2017

In 2008 Raleigh volunteers came to my village to work on a project. Back then the river next to our village was the main source of water, for laundry, cooking and drinking. That river had been our source of water for years. Sometimes it wasn’t really clean, like when it was raining and flooding, and it wasn’t safe to drink. Raleigh came to my village and built a gravity fed water system that brought clean water straight to our house. They also built a Community Learning Centre. Before that we didn’t have a pre-school in my village, but when Raleigh came and built those buildings there was somewhere to give the early stage of education to the kids in my village. That had a lot of impact on my village.

That’s how I learned about what Raleigh does and how to join an expedition. I saw how amazing it was and it inspired me a lot when I saw international people come to my village and help my people. I said I also have to go out there and I want to make a difference to my people, too. I also wanted to make friends, improve my language skills and my leadership skills. I wanted to inspire people and give something back to my people, particularly in Sabah. I was so excited to join Raleigh.

My life was totally changed when I joined Raleigh; it changed how I think and made me want to inspire people. I promised that I would come back as volunteer manager, because I really wanted to learn more, and to have another experience and see a different perspective of life. In 2017, I came back to Raleigh to be a volunteer manager. I wanted to make another difference, to challenge myself, and to see how I could lead young people from across the globe.

My role as a volunteer manager is to support the volunteers. They come from the other side of the world and this environment is totally new for them. That’s why volunteer managers are really crucial in Expedition. We support volunteers to become leaders with good decision-making, being more adaptable, and also opening up to new environments with flexibility. We’re here to support them as they learn how to be a good teammate and to understand how they add value to their team. If they make decisions and there’s something wrong we’re here to help them to improve it, not to criticise them.

I’ve seen that these young people will be the leaders in the future. They are catalysts for development, because they have a lot of new and fresh ideas. They have energy, a lot of enthusiasm and they are curious about how stuff works. They will lead the next generation, so we are nurturing their value, and they will nurture value in the next generation.

As a host country volunteer manager, my role is to make sure that our groups are culturally sensitive and to educate the volunteers about cultural uniqueness and differences. It’s very important for local Sabahan and Malaysians to join the expedition because they know the local culture, so they can be the bridges between the international volunteers and the community. Bridges to create mutual understanding. I want to help make sure that we have rapport in communities and maintain relationships with the villages. These people own the village and that village is theirs, so we need to behave like a guest.

It’s also good for host country volunteers to join Raleigh to learn about our home country. Exploring our own country gives us a perspective of how we need to help our people and to see that rural areas need safe water, proper education and road access. I think every Malaysian needs to experience this.

You’re not going to regret if it you join Raleigh. It’s a learning experience full of fun. Raleigh is totally awesome.

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