''Everything happens for a reason'', by volunteer Eden Lawless

6th August 2015

EDEN6

 

People say “Everything happens for a reason” and to be honest I’ve never been a believer in this, until now.

 

 

My first taste of Raleigh was when I arrived in Kota Kinabalu on the 8th of October 2014, with the most amazingly diverse, yet like-minded people I’ve ever met. I was so excited and ready for the most challenging and rewarding ten weeks of my life. Little did I know that three short weeks after, I would be on my flight home.

After breaking my ankle whilst on my first phase, which entailed building a gravity water fed system in Kampung Abingkoi, I was so angered by people telling me that “everything happens for a reason, Eden”. What could possibly be the reason for this awful thing to happen!? Now I’ve realised. That this expedition, 15D, is mine.

EDEN6

 

After four weeks and four days I can honestly say I’ve never laughed harder. I’ve learned to love strangers and become a family with them over such a short period of time. Indeed, I have truly learned to embrace every moment of my life, cherishing them as memories for the years to come.

The first three weeks of my expedition was spent in the breathtakingly beautiful Imbak Canyon. Living there for three weeks with a team of ten and four on hand rangers, I was in my element.

Alpha Four worked relentlessly, carrying heavy bags of cement, sand and rocks in order to mix concrete to secure the anchor of the suspension bridge. This project, which was previously started by previous Raleigh volunteers will help to provide researchers and scientists access to a vast unexplored area of this native rainforest.

EDEN4

 

Working well as a team during the day made us all really close even outside of work, which was handy as our living arrangements meant we very close a lot of the day. We used our spare time after work and on our Sunday rest days to teach each other skills we had from home. This included salsa, ballet and how to make amazing food from our Raleigh rations!

It was always going to be hard joining a new group after three weeks with a team you’ve grown to know and love. However, that being said, the great thing about Raleigh is that everybody is here for an amazing 10 weeks of fun, hard work and personal development.  To know that I will always have something in common with my new teammates is always comforting.

My new Alpha One group and I set off from basecamp after our first changeover on Tuesday, 22nd July 2015 to start working on our community phase in a place called Sonsogon Magandai, a small village nestled away in the area Pitas region in northern Sabah. We are currently working on a WASH project (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and we have already seen the benefits the villagers will receive from this project. We have picked up from where the other group left off in Phase One, and have been working on pulling and connecting all the pipes from the gravity fed water system to individual houses around the village.

eden 2

 

The moment the first tap was turned on and seeing clean water coming out from it was probably the most touching moment I’ve experienced as an individual. To be able to witness and feel the massive effect it will have on this village is just amazing. We will now continue piping to more remote houses on the outskirts of the village, and will be starting work on the toilets as well as running sanitation classes at the local kindergarten to highlight the importance of handwashing.

eden 1

 

I would love nothing more than to return to Sonsogon Magandai in years to come to see that the work we started in 2015 was the start of the many amazing things for the people of this beautiful community. I look forward to seeing this WASH project a success.