I can barely comprehend what we have at our fingertips. Summer 2017 is passing us by in the blink of an eye. This means it can sometimes be hard to sit back and appreciate the impact we are having.
This is my third expedition and I can’t lie, the prospect of doing another community phase intimidated me. I was afraid I was going to draw incomparable memories from Tanzania and Nepal (my previous expeditions), and find myself feeling disconnected and discontented. I always tell my friends back home to ‘Get out there’, and ‘Give Raleigh a try!’ – and it turns out that another community phase has been the perfect refresher as to why I tell them that.
Being here in Kampung Pandan is amazing and I’ve re-found real peace of mind out here. Something is winning over my heart. The work is a good pace and the impact here is so tangible. And believe me, living near, sharing meals with, working with, and playing games with the local people has been amazing.
This is also the chance to learn so much about different cultures, countries, people and their backgrounds. I asked Host Country Venturer Dielfian what the best part of community phase was for him: “New friends from across the world and the chance to work as a team with them.” I completely agree and can say I’m coming out of this phase much better because of every person I’ve come into contact with this expedition.
Enjoy the journey! Give 100% of yourself to the work and the experience, and you’ll be bound to fall in love with the local way of life. Experience these countries in a genuine way; in my case the Pandan Way. It’s heartwarming that in every interaction with a local you’re greeted with a smile, a handshake, and a touch to the heart. The meals shared with head villager Uncle James and his family, and the feast with the locals at the end of the phase, will probably be some of my fondest memories… and probably the best meals I’ll have this whole trip.
Being in Pandan was made easy thanks to Uncle James’ welcoming arms and generous spirit. But a huge show of gratitude is due for our amazing Host Country Venturers for bridging the boundaries between us and the community. They were always willing to translate any conversation or ease any interaction. They were especially willing to teach us enough Malay to help us get by on our own. I asked our other Host Country Venturer, Along, what his reaction was to seeing young people from around the world coming to invest in the development of Sabah; “I feel blessed to be a part of Raleigh and I’m inspired. I’m inspired by them to give my best and I plan to listen and learn more about their personal experiences.” I personally feel blessed to be here and grateful that our Host Country counterparts love having us in their home country.
I’m embracing every exchange. Loving every day on the worksites. Loving every day on the Pandan ‘football pitch’. I’m holding close all the bonds I’m making with both fellow volunteers and the local community.
So, get out there! Take the chance to make lifelong friends. The patience, tolerance and bonds you gain is something you can take with you in everyday life and even in a ‘proper job’. Once again, I’m loving the growth I see in my peers and myself. And obviously, when expedition ends, I’ll be leaving a piece of my heart in Pandan.
Words by David
If you’d like to contact any of our volunteers with messages from home, please use the contact form here and your message will be delivered during project support visits or during changeover.
Coming up at Raleigh Borneo:
September 6: 17E Endex