Zulu 1: Working Together with the Community

25th July 2017

Our new home in Kampung Kobon is wonderful. We’ve been here for eleven days now and the time has flown by; there’s something really special about this place. The sound of insects and birds is like background music, a gentle hubbub of noise which is ever present. On a clear night, millions of stars sparkle in the sky and the fluorescent glow of fireflies can be seen through the trees.

Zulu 1 at work on their first tandas.

The community here is lovely. Everyone is so friendly; a kindness and generosity so difficult to put into words. We have been to the two church services, one at the new church and one at the old church, and I found both experiences really enjoyable. In both services we sang lots of songs, and members of the community expressed their appreciation and gratefulness for us coming to work in Kampung Kobon.

Zulu 1 spending time with the community.

Throughout our time here, members of the village have prepared many different dishes for us, such as rice cooked in banana leaves, bamboo shoots, jungle ferns, papaya with sardines, and banana fritters. When we have been on the construction sites, locals have given us fresh coconuts, cutting them with their parangs so that we can drink the juice. We have been taught dances, played games, such as Takraw and Jabat, and chased the village children in games of tag – they are so fast! The people here have really made this phase of the expedition for me, and I shall miss them when we leave.

Sarah getting stuck into some concreting.

Our work is progressing well now. When we leave in one week’s time, our aim is to have completed the construction of three tandas (toilets) at three different locations within the village. So far we have been focusing on digging the foundations, including the bases for the tandas themselves, deep holes for the septic tanks, and trenches for the pipes. This stage is physically challenging, especially with the heat and humidity here, but we have a great team and morale is high. A couple of days ago we poured the concrete base at our first site and cemented the pipes from the toilet basin to the septic tank. It’s really satisfying seeing it all coming together.

Zulu 1 discussing their next actions.

I’m enjoying the site work. The digging of the foundations is hard work but I like the physical challenge, and we all rotate in and out when members of the team need a rest. Help from the locals is fantastic; their work ethic is amazing. They work alongside us and only stop when we do.

Zulu 1 spending time with the community.

Besides the site work, we have been running sessions with the community, including a WASH session with the younger children and an active citizenship session about sustainable development with the 11-17 year olds. We’ve also carried out baseline surveys to establish how people are living in the village at the moment, and we’re well on the way to completing a full asset map of the area.
Overall, my experience in Kampung Kobon has been amazing so far – and I can’t wait for us to finally complete our work, and finish the three toilets. It will be such an achievement, and will hopefully benefit the community long after we’ve left.
Words by Sarah
Photos by Saoirse
Look out for more from Sarah and Zulu 1 as they finish up their time in Kobon, and move onto their next phase – the Adventure Challenge.


Coming up at Raleigh Borneo:
24th July: Trek Phase 1 finishes
26th-28th July: Changeover
29th July: Phase 2 Deployment Day


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Malaysian Borneo