18th March 2015
The arrival of 22 students and 2 staff from Newcastle University on the 15th March signalled the start of Raleigh International’s 2015 Bespoke programme, as they were welcomed to the beautiful state of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
The students, who are currently undertaking final year Master’s Degrees with Newcastle University’s School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, will be participating in infrastructure projects in two marginalised communities, the rural kampungs (villages) of Bambangan and Minisulang, gaining invaluable experience working with limited resources in a challenging environment. More specifically, they’ll be building Gravity Fed Water Systems to provide these isolated communities with clean water, serving 8 houses with a population of approximately 40 people in each village.
Such villages in Sabah remain unconnected by road and other basic infrastructure meaning services such as water coverage are not easily accessible and further serve to marginalise and restrict livelihoods. Safe drinking water is a key pre-requisite to poverty alleviation and human development; providing access to these technologies combined with education on the importance of good hygiene practices are some of the most cost effective ways of achieving positive results with regard to health and socio-economic impact. As such, the students will not just be forging cross-cultural relationships when working with locals to install these systems but also empowering them to maintain and repair the systems, and conducting health awareness sessions in the community to ensure sustainability long after the students have returned to the UK.
Throughout the programme the students will be assessed on various criteria including leadership and professionalism, and this will contribute to part of their final Master’s Degree result. Despite having the engineering know-how, the time-frame is tight and Borneo can be a beautiful but testing environment, so the students will need to learn the necessary skills and procedures to survive and successfully complete the project. Thus, the next few days will be spent covering all sorts of training from River Crossings and Casualty Evacuations to Radio Protocols and Cultural Awareness sessions at Raleigh’s wonderful Base Camp.
[Project Planning Visit]
Keep an eye out for an update on Newcastle Universities Base Camp experience prior to project deployment.