February 29, 2016, by Jonathan Teoh
More than a summer experience
In July last year, a team of 29 students and 3 academic staffs from different faculties from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus with other volunteers from a few non-government organisations (NGOs) went to a rural village in Sarawak (Borneo) with a few objectives to improve the living standards of this community. This project was supported by Impact Nottingham via the Cascade grant. Jonathan Chooi who is our current year 3 Biomedical Sciences student shared his experience on the project:
“The Water4Power project promised a few objectives: to first provide sustainable electricity to the community, and also waste management, healthcare and education solutions. With my capacity as the group logistics head who was heavily involved in pre-trip preparations and as an active participant from 22nd July to 1st August 2015, I would like to say that the project has now been completed. Most of the objectives were met. In addition, efforts are being made to ensure the system maintains in efficient operation.
The project comprised of the installation of a mini-hydro generator during August last year. It had since been in operation and as a result, hydroelectricity was delivered to Sapit Village as of 23 Dec 2015 and is continuing since. That is itself is a great success where villagers can now rely less on diesel-powered generators and instead utilise hydro-energy for electricity. This, we hope would mean less nights of darkness and instead light that children could use to study. On top of that, this initiative also reduces the financial burdens that families have to bear from purchasing diesel.
On the other hand, the proposed waste management solutions were not as satisfactory. This is due to constraints that was beyond our reach. Despite that, it was encouraging that awareness of not littering was instilled in both adults and children of Sapit Village. In addition, healthcare and education objectives, otherwise, were good and has been met. A lot of patients attended our temporary clinics in August where they benefitted from receiving free consultation from the doctor and dentist. On the school front, school children were taught important subjects, took part in some activities and were hopefully inspired to strive for success- which is the main point we are hoping to see.
While the project’s end objectives were met, there were also slight ‘bumps’ throughout the journey. One aspect was that the expectations that UNMC student participants had as they were briefed during the pre-interview did not match the reality that of project. This is due to the long delays in the delivery of materials from our local contractor. In saying that though, I applaud the team leader and person-in-charge for having responded accordingly! Important decisions were made to make the most out of the situation and thus enriching the student participants’ experience.
Overall, the trip has been such a blessing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have had lived and met the Bidayuh community of Sapit Village. The village is magical and the people are warm. Living there has been such a refreshing experience away from the city. I am privileged and honoured to have played a part-however big or small in contributing to the welfare of this village.”
Below is a recent news article published on the project in Borneo Post http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/02/29/there-is-light-finally/
The video of the project can be found here