The life of Alpha 2, written by volunteers Jendaya and Matthias

17th July 2015

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After spending a few days at Basecamp, finding new friends, missing old friends and family, training for phases and going on a trek to jungle camp, allocations happened and Alpha 2 was born. The Raleigh gods shared our destinies and gave us the best project there was. The whole of basecamp knew Alpha 2’s community resilience project was the bagus project (bagus means ‘good’ in Malay!).

Alpha 2 have spent the last two weeks in the village of Lirung, close to the Indonesian border. The village is in a beautiful spot located on the banks of a river with clear, clean water, and with a great sports field close by. Lirung is connected to another village, Sikalabaan, a ten minute walk which travels across the river via suspension bridge. While Lirung is our workplace, Sikalabaan is our home away from home.

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The suspension bridge to enter Lirung

Alpha 2’s task is to renovate the existing community learning centre (CLC) which was built by the Malaysian government. The work involves replacing the roof and ceiling inside, building a new set of stairs, and painting the entire building. We are also in the process of adding an extension to the building, which will act as a covered outdoor area like a veranda. Our first task was to pull out sand from the river bed and sieve it to make sure pure sand is mixed into the cement to create the extension’s foundations. We then worked on re-doing the ceiling by putting up replacement plywood, and painting the building. The villagers came to help on Saturday and managed to have the foundations and initial wooden beams in place in just a couple of hours – very impressive! We have also started digging the foundations for two new toilets on site, and have managed to put in place the two septic tanks already.

But there is a lot still to be done! Volunteers allocated to Alpha 2 in Phases 2 and 3 will be working on the renovation of the teachers’ house, and constructing a path to join the teachers’ building to the CLC. They will also be building a fence around the perimeter of the site to stop the community’s cows from damaging the woodwork of the buildings.

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The community learning centre

Alpha 2 is not just about hard work. We normally get to swim in the river twice a day – one after lunch to cool off, and once in the evening to wash. ‘Volleyball Mondays’ has become a sold-out event in Sikalabaan. Unbeknown to Alpha 2, members of the local community are practically professionals in volleyball, being undefeated since we’ve been here! The children from the two villages have been on their school holidays and have enjoyed coming down to the site with their parents and helping out with the painting. On Saturday evenings we have been coordinating some English classes with the local community. At the first class, the CLC was filled with children of all ages who were all very excited and eager to be learning a new language – even some of the parents joined in!

We have loved spending time with the local community, interacting and learning new things from them. The local families are very generous and love to pop by and give the group some homemade snacks and local delicacies to add to our Raleigh rations, or as an afternoon pick-me-up.

In the matter of two weeks, as a group we have collectively agreed that these have been the hardest days of our lives. We have definitely learned umpteen new things. The locals of Sikalabaan have done an outstanding job of making their home our home. As the last few days are drawing closer, we, Alpha 2, will continue to strive and persevere to get the CLC completed.