The opening ceremony in Buruni: celebrating access to clean water

12th December 2017

The day started with the opening of the third tandas built by Raleigh volunteers this expedition. Raleigh volunteers had painted a mural on this tandas to symbolise the waterfall by the dam site and water turning on. Christine Gentles (Raleigh International), Anne Lasimbang (Pacos Trust) and Belinda Ford (Coca-Cola) cut the ribbon and leaders of the Buruni community spoke about what an important milestone this was.

Alpha 1 and members of the community outside tandas 3
Alpha 1 and members of the community outside tandas 3

We then moved up to a venue near the local school for speeches from Coca-Cola, Raleigh Borneo, Pacos Trust and members of the community.

The Pastor at the local church, a site for one of the tandas’, led the ceremony. Jalian, a head villager and science teacher at the primary school first spoke. ‘We no longer need to go to the river to wash, we can now wash at home before working’

Christine Gentles, Country Operations Manager, Raleigh Borneo followed, ‘Access to safe water and sanitation brings benefits to our health and saves valuable time and effort. Having access to safe water and sanitation gives us more time to work, study and play. It builds resilience and improves the quality of our lives. Completing this project has made a great contribution to the heart of this community. So today, we are celebrating this and our partnership, friendship and a wonderful team effort.’

Watching the speeches
Watching the speeches

‘Coca- Cola’s aim is to return the same amount of water used in the production of their drinks back to the nature and communities in Malaysia. I would like to say to Raleigh volunteers, I hope this has been a wonderful experience for you and I hope you take back fond memories with you and I know the community will have fond memories of you and I look forward to seeing what you do in your future. You have nothing but positivity and positive impacts to make in the future so thank you.’ Belinda Ford, Coca-Cola Public Affairs & Communications Director, Singapore- Malaysia-Brunei

Anne Lasimbong, Director of Pacos Trust ‘I am so thankful to Coca-Cola, Raleigh Volunteers and the villagers working together to make this successful. On behalf of Pacos trust, I hope that this dam will continue to the community’s life here.’

Jasli, a member of the community who had been heavily involved in helping the venturers build the tandas and piping said, ‘Thank you for being so hardworking because from now on we can feel the cold of the water straight to our houses.’

Koton, a key member of the village also expressed his thanks, ‘Thank you for all the project partners. You came here to bring a huge present for us. It’s not just for us but for the next generations. This is a huge change for the villagers.’

Following the speeches, the villagers provided a huge array of traditional Malay cuisine and the Raleigh volunteers put on traditional costumes for a dance performance alongside younger members of the community.

Raleigh venturers doing a traditional dance
Raleigh venturers doing a traditional dance

They later performed a song titled ‘We love Buruni’ about their time with the community and the impact it had made on their lives. Members of the village then followed this with a song.

Alpha 1 singing a 'We love Buruni'
Alpha 1 singing a ‘We love Buruni’

The day truly highlighted what a change Raleigh volunteers have made with the community over the last 10 weeks. Through their WASH sessions, dam building, 3 tandas’ and completed piping to all villagers in Buruni – this is an achievement that will be remembered for many years to come.

Everyone celebrating the day
Everyone celebrating the day

Thank you to all our volunteers who have worked so hard and truly implemented sustainable lasting change to the community of Buruni. Thank you also to PACOS Trust and Coca-Cola for your support in enabling us to achieve such an important project.

Words by Florence and photos by Larysa

Up next: 

15 Dec: Opening ceremony for the CLC in Kibinut

16 Dec: Venturers Endex and Closing Ceremony

18 Dec: Venturers depart


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Malaysian Borneo