Laying the foundations

24th October 2017

Our Alpha 2 project focusses on community resilience in Kampung Kibunut, a village in the Penampang region of Sabah. Over the course of the expedition, the teams in Kibunut will be building a Community Learning Centre (CLC). This will provide a central hub for the community and a comfortable learning environment for the children.

The aim of the project is to improve access to education and enhance community resilience. Compared to the Malaysian average, literacy rates and educational outcomes in Sabah lag significantly behind, and are particularly high in remote rural communities. The Malaysian government provides education for children aged 6 and over, but they must meet a minimum literacy standard. This is difficult for children in such communities who have no access to a suitable space to learn.

Alongside our project partners, PACOS and Fondation Les Paquerettes, we hope to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of quality education, good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth. The CLC will provide access to education for the most disadvantaged members of the community.

Emily, one of the venturers, tells us how they are working together with the community to help build a Community Learning Centre.

Life in a community

Alpha 2 planning the foundations at the building site
Alpha 2 planning the foundations at the building site

We’ve spent the last few days bonding as a team and getting to know the community of Kibunut, a small village in Sabah. As a team we’ve discovered a shared talent for singing, bursting into song at every opportunity, and we already feel like an Alpha 2 family.

On our first evening, the villagers welcomed us with a dinner party at the Community Hall, which we’ll be living in for the next couple of weeks. We had about 20 people here and were lucky enough to try some delicious Malaysian cuisine.

Together with a team of villagers, we’ve started to build the foundations for the CLC building. Despite some heavy rain, we’ve managed to safely dig most of the foundation holes with help from Benedict, one of the villagers, and Rico from PACOS Trust.

Alpha 2 at the worksite
Alpha 2 at the worksite

Our two Volunteer Managers Karla and Gurpreet have been helping us to plan our asset mapping and baselines surveys in the village. This involves looking at the community’s current situation at a precise point in time, so that we can monitor the longer-term impact of our work. Baseline surveys also let us see where we can expand the aims of our project.

We’re also working alongside the community to maintain the CLC through using the upper-storey as a homestay, which will provide extra income. We’ll also conduct a citizen science training programme; this will empower the community with the tools and knowledge to make ongoing decisions about the management of their natural resources.

The community at Alpha 2's cultural dance
The community at Alpha 2’s cultural dance

During the evening, we’ve also had the chance to get to know the local children in the village. It’s been exciting learning about how the CLC will benefit them when it’s finished and being able to get to know some of the children who will be using the CLC has been really inspiring. The hospitality and friendliness expressed by each one of the villagers is unbelievable and makes helping build the CLC so much more fun and worthwhile.

What are we hoping to achieve in the next few weeks?

Venturer Molly: We are hoping to complete the foundations and the cement floor whilst also treating the timber frame ready to be cut into place in phase two.

Volunteer Manager Karla: I hope to develop each member of the team into a successful and efficient day leader, whilst providing them with all the knowledge they need on active citizenship, citizen science and construction.

Words by Emily, supporting words by Florence and photos by Larysa.

Up next:

25 Oct – Loop continues to projects

4 Nov – Changeover

7 Nov – Phase 2 deploys


Youth Economic Empowerment Malaysian Borneo