Whilst planning my trip I was looking forward to volunteering the most. I mean I couldn’t just wander aimlessly for a year of my life! No but seriously, it was very important for me to give back. I’m on the most incredible journey of my life right now, so the least I can do is dedicate some of that time to helping others.
I was of course very excited to arrive and begin volunteering in Borneo, but at the same time I was sad to leave Cambodia. If you’ve read my previous blog posts you’ll know how much I adored the country and people. I don’t think I was ready to leave, which during my first week was certainly playing on my mind. But don’t worry, there is good news from this. I know I haven’t even begun to talk about Borneo yet, however I’m excited to let you know that I’ve been given the opportunity to go back to Cambodia in June to volunteer with Camp International. Ahhhhhhhhh! Anyway back to Borneo…
Our group of 12, who we’d either happily or unhappily be stuck with for the next month 😜, were all present in Kota Kinabalu (the capital) by Monday 10th April. With warm welcomes, an incredible sunset over the port and a traditional dinner (FYI, the food in Malaysia is amazing), we were ready to tackle our first project work on the Tuesday.
PACOS Trust – Kivatu Nature Farm
An hour drive from Kota Kinabalu took us to a village called Penampang. Here we worked with a local community based organisation called PACOS (Partners of Community Organisations in Sabah).
Our project site was Kivatu Nature Farm, which was actually part of a local primary school. Here PACOS educate and encourage the local communities to farm organically and eco friendly. My favourite examples of this were old tyres used for plant beds, water bottles for hanging plant pots and compost made from the school’s food waste. The group tasks for the day were to create a concrete foundation for a new compost pit, shift through and bag up compost, as well as bottling molasses (a black treacle substance, which is a byproduct of refining sugarcane). Both the compost and molasses were to be sold at the market, with the profits helping to fund the organisation.
My personal tasks were to shovel the gravel and transport it to the end of the farm (more like a garden) in a wheelbarrow. In the heat this was actually quite hard work, but if you know me well, you’ll know I enjoyed it more for that reason. I then helped mix the concrete, before levelling out the last part of the pit. After lunch we shift the compost by placing it on a wire rack and hitting the bottom with a metal stick, to then be boxed up in old ice cream tubs. Later in the afternoon we bottled the molasses in old fizzy drink plastic bottles, which following my description above, I’m sure you can appreciate was extremely messy. We managed to get quite a lot done in the day and were kindly thanked by the staff at PACOS before we left, which in itself was rewarding 😊.
Brushing the dirt off our hands, this was our first taste of volunteering and in comparison to what was it come, it was a walk in the park.
Jessica Storm ✌️