We are proud to share this with you on press release of our recently launched Community Learning Centre (CLC), one of our projects on Mantanani island on a few major Malaysian newspapers today. Below are an article publicised on New Straits Times.
We are proud to share this with you on press release of our recently launched Community Learning Centre (CLC), one of our projects on Mantanani island on a few major Malaysian newspapers today. Below are an article publicised on New Straits Times.
From the east coast to the north west coast of Sabah, Eva’s Gap Year programmes in Borneo brings you to the lovely paradise island that is Mantanani!
Hope you are all well! We’re all great here (and very tanned). Hope you’ve not been worrying these last ten days; Mantanani Island, whilst beautiful, was devoid of both wi-fi and phone reception. Warning: prepare to be extremely jealous after reading this blog entry…
This week’s new and exciting location was Mantanani Island, just off Borneo’s north-western coast. Camp Mantanani (Camp Mosquito Bite would also be an accurate name) is arranged much the same way as Tinangol, with a squat toilet/shower block and communal living/dining area, surrounded by greenery.
The sleeping quarters are basically dorms of fifteen bunk beds in a three-walled room (privacy, what is this privacy you speak of?). Small villages lie about a kilometer on each side of the camp. Then, there’s the addition of an amazingly blue stretch of beach just outside the gate. In short, an amazing place.
The weekends were spent in a truly ‘tropical island holiday’ style – a mix of swimming in pristine blue waters, exploring the (fairly small) island, tanning, watching sunsets and lounging in hammocks.
The week’s project work was once again construction; this time we were putting the finishing touches on a learning centre that has been under construction since 2010. This included painting signs, lacquering wall panels and testing our skill at landscaping.
Our stay at Mantanani also had a particular focus on environmental conservation. Our camp manager Aida taught us about the biodiversity around Mantanani (did you know the South China Sea holds a third of the entire world’s biodiversity?), why it’s threatened and what can be done to decrease human impact on marine ecosystems. These lessons we attempted to pass on to the local village primary school children in two hour-long classes, which we had to plan for and teach in small groups (without outside help!). Honestly it was a bit daunting, but the kids proved attentive for the most part – as long as we interspersed the teaching with lots of games!
We also undertook a beach clean up. On a 320m stretch of beach we collected 200kg of rubbish. This included a whopping 700 plastic bottles. By the end of the clean-up everyone was fairly disgusted with humanity, with good reason. However, we still live in hope that this beautiful island will one day be rubbish-free. The camp itself was living proof of the benefits of recycling, with a beach hut made and decorated with almost entirely recycled materials such as driftwood, plastic bottles, dried coral and shells.
Apart from project work we were always kept busy and learning new things, participating in evening activities such as palm weaving, hammock making, night walks, creating eco-purses out of plastic wrappers, and even coconut tree climbing (which Tom got particularly good at, while others preferred NOT being precariously perched ten metres above ground)… Long walks on the beach, morning swims, jumping off jetties, building sandcastles, beach bonfires, star-gazing, listening to the crash of waves: these were the kinds of simple pleasures life was made up of for ten days on the beautiful Mantanani Island. I, for one, was quite sorry to be leaving.
Well, I’ll take my leave now – the group’s got to rest up properly before the next stage of our big adventure: climbing the 4km giant, Mt Kinabalu!
Mantanani Community Learning Centre (CLC) has been officially handed over to the community on 18th October 2012. Following Rory’s blog today on Wow! Completing Borneo Project Work , I would like to share some photos documented from when it all first started building in June 2010 to October 2012 feeling how amazing it is to get very committed and hardworking volunteers getting stuck in every part of the built. We have had many challenges throughout the completion of this building but it is one that we had great experience with everyone involved and are really proud of.
Earlier during the start of this project we have blogged about what you will be doing as volunteers coming to Camp Mantanani.
We also shared the day we raised the roof on the CLC. One of our biggest challenges!
In February this year, we had our Camps Directors visit and Stu blogged about his trip and the progress on tough day at the island office.
Summer this year, we had more hands to help complete this project and Anna Nicholls, one of our Arkitrek interns who stayed as long as 5 months on the project this year, sums up perfectly the end of the CLC summer progress report.
How it all started by the seashore…
I have just returned from a 2 day trip to Mantanani where we opened the Community Learning Centre (CLC) which we have been building for the past 2 years or so as part of our ongoing Borneo Project Work. I started my opening ceremony speech with “wow” which was ably translated for the local audience also as “wow” and I think that sums it up very nicely.
During my 8 or so years in Borneo I have been privileged to see some great things and also to be part of constructing many buildings in rural villages. But I have to say the CLC on Mantanani is perhaps one of the most impressive and beautiful buildings I have worked on. From the outside the bamboo paneling forms a protective shell which is intriguing to the eye – from the inside the different designs of panel allow varying levels of light through, creating a mosaic or light and shadow, making the interior fascinating to just sit and be inside of. These panels combined with the huge towering drift wood columns around the outside make this building a truly iconic and inspiring place. The design is innovative and unique; the craftsmanship impressive; the intensity and passion of all those who have worked on the building is apparent. I would like to personally thank everyone involved in the building – the architect interns and permanent team from Arkitrek who have overseen the plans and construction throughout; the skilled labour of Albi, Hashim and Normin who have toiled everyday to complete the construction work; and of course every single volunteer, whether they be gap students or school team, who has put blood, sweat and tears into making this an awesome building, something to be really proud of – thank you all.
It was also a time for reflection after 4 years of working on Mantanani, part of our ongoing Borneo Project Work – my first visits with Mel where we discussed our plans with Albi, and we walked along the seafront where our camp now is (and the Mari-Mari buildings). There was nothing there then, just a winding track and loads of driftwood on the beach with the occasional cow going past – we paced out into the undergrowth what Albi thought was the extent of the land that was available for us to rent. We discussed with Albi what Camps was all about and I don’t think he really understood it all, but in true Albi fashion, after looking slightly serious and if the weight of the world was on his shoulders, he smiled broadly, we shook hands and hugged – the deal was done. Its been a long road since then, often challenging and difficult, mixed with some mistrust and resistance, uncertainty and problems. But it finally struck me that slowly, very slowly, things are changing, and changing for the better for those on Mantanani, whilst also holding onto their identity and sense of belonging. It was the little things – our team of cooks, 4 girls, thick as thieves, giggling to each other as they prepared our food, working hard but happy, earning some money, learning, growing in confidence. These same girls led the dancing at the opening ceremony – and where initially a year or two ago the dancing was limited, wearing their company T-shirts, shy and embarrassed, slightly awkward, yesterday it was vibrant, confident, in full costumes and proud – proud to be there performing their traditional dance, proud to be an “Orang Baju Laut”, bursting with confidence, leading 4 young girls from the school who were also part of the dance. Their eyes caught mine, sat as the main guest in the front row, but instead of shying away, they held my gaze, brimming with pride. It brings tears to my eyes and makes the hair stand up on the back of neck to consider and write this now, and I hope you can share and feel that with me. And to cap it all they performed again in front of the whole village and a plethora of visitors and big wigs during a huge “Community Policing Programme” yesterday – and they were awesome again, young and old in the village captivated by their moves. And it was then that I realized, we were making a difference, an intangible difference, and that its not about the buildings and facilities we construct, but simply about our presence, our love and giving people a sense of their own power and abilities. Wow!
This is the report done by Anna, out Arkitrek intern, who was overseeing the completion of the community centre out on Mantanani over this summer season.
This community centre is the result of 2 years and 3 seasons of work by gappers and school teams who have all left a great legacy behind them on the island. This community centre is a credit to all those who have been involved from start to finish. Well done teams!
Please click the following link to view the report:
After a long flight and some sightseeing time in Kota Kinabalu, we finally arrived on Mantanani Island. We were very lucky, the weather had just changed and this allowed the boat to cross the South China Sea; other schools had suffered delays and had to wait for calmer waters. Aida, Camp Manager, gave us a bit of R&R time on our first day and walked us into the main village. We formed Team Vale Academy and Barnwood Park team. The projects are coming on really well and when we saw the new community building, we couldn’t wait to get started.
Those doing the Scuba took part in a teatime Scuba game which involved learning too. They had to sort their scuba equipment and then run under the gate, across the sand, swim out to the boat – back in and through the tire to tag the next person in the group. It was hysterical! Leah and Emma were fantastic with the equipment and Lukas, Matthew, Chloe and Georgie really went for the race and won hands down.
The Scuba teams are a mix of students from both schools. The first team [Team 8] to go included Matthew, Harry and Nathan with all the Barnwood girls. They started scuba on Tuesday and are loving it. The remaining Vale girls [in Team 9a] started scuba today, Thursday 26th July and seem to be loving it although I don’t think they loved the 06.15am start.
On Tuesday, the non scuba students went with me to do the first project : bench building at the small village library. This gives the children somewhere to sit outside under the shade and read. We split into two groups and were provided with a saw, hammer, nails. The logs were cut down near the beach and we fetched those ourselves. Tom and I joined Barnwood Park girls Zoe and Izzy. Vale bench builders: Chloe, Becky, Leah, Holly and Payton made up the other team. After two days we had produced 5 excellent benches complete with woven palm backs [ we’d learnt how to weave palm earlier…]. Absolutely brilliant!
On Wednesday we collected plastic from the beach and learnt how to fold the strips to make purses. We are all now constantly thinking of ways to use rubbish. The students were brilliant at this; apart from the cutting out, they put me to shame! Wednesday night was awesome. At 8pm, the children from the village came and danced for us. Of course, they got students up to dance and who ended up commanding the stage? Lukas! His dance with one of the village girls was unbelievable – that boy’s certainly got rhythm and some of the funniest facial expressions I have ever seen. Everyone was in hysterics.
Thursday 26th Both teams are out doing scuba so non scubas went with me and Colin to do bottle collecting on the beach. We’ve washed them and decorated & filled the windows of the conservation building – it looks fab – well done girls! Sarah, Zoe, Izzy, Rebecca and of course myself and Colin worked really hard to get it looking good as it faces the main beach footpath.
Overall? They are getting used to eating rice all the time, Becky ate squid last night for the first time ever, Harry willingly ate all the fish and went back for seconds and no-one is going hungry. We could say the mozzy’s are eating fairly well too although no-one has any problem bites. It’s hot but not too humid as we’ve got the sea breeze. We started a game of Human Cluedo last night and already Tom , Emma D and Leah are out ; Holly is winning at this point, keep checking back for an update. You can also see more pics on Camps Int facebook page where the main office will keep posting updates.
So… we are doing well and looking forward to the next Camp. We leave for Tinangol on Monday.
Final thought – the only true failure is the failure to try – all the students in this whole group are really trying and I’m sure we’ll continue to have a fantastic time. Life on Mantanani is just brilliant. - Sandy King
Last week i visited Borneo to run around the camps and check on the summer preparations for the fast approaching summer team season. This is an annual thing where i get to poke around in the details of every camp – and trust me you really don’t want the boss poking around too much because it leads to trouble! So obviously the Camp Managers were slightly nervous about my visit but they also know what i am looking for – details on the plans for projects and activities to be undertaken, budgets, safety documents especially casualty evacuation plans,staffing, sleeping plans – the list is endless.
Over the next few days i hope to show some pictures from each camp i visited to check on the summer preparations, so people can get a feel for the in depth preparation being undertaken at all our locations.
My first visit was to Camp Tinangol who will be hosting a summer school team for the first time this year. We have taken the plunge and finally decided to build a second longhouse after several years of consideration and wishful thinking. The ground breaking ceremony was held back in April and the gang wasted no time in getting stuck into the building, which is on track and on budget. It may look far from complete but actually the bulk of the work has been completed.
As well as the longhouse, the teams visiting Tinangol have been very busy over the last 2 years building a kindergarten which has featured on these pages many times. It is now nearing completion and it is our intention to try and finish it off this summer. Currently a gap team are working on the main staircase up to the main level. Work here will include finishing the stairs, all walling and finish the flooring near the rear of the building and construct all lower walls using biocrete blocks and form work. Loads to do and we hope to have an opening ceremony at the end of August to officially hand the building over to the community to be used.
It was with great celebration that Arkitrek Camp 2 came to an end last weekend after nearly a month of hard work in the scorching Mantanani sun. The camp is a partnership with our friends at Arkitrek to hold a camp for student and professional architects, designers, engineers and anyone with an interest in sustainable development, to explore methods of designing and building a structure to a live brief utilising local knowledge and modern insight.
The brief on this occasion was to use as much locally sourced material as possible to create a prototype accomodation block to replace our old Tented area in the camp. This finished block will be replicated behind the camp a further 6 times until we reach our maximum possible volume. The brief also required the structure to be part of a camp wide water catchment system allowing us to harvest as much rain water as possible to be used for showers, toilets, cleaning etc… which limits our use of the native water table. But harvesting rain water from a traditionl style thatch roof is no easy task, so the team had their work cut out.
Through a process of consultation, design and build, the team came up with an impressive solution utilising local materials inlcuding driftwood, as well as recycled materials that had washed up on the beach and left over parts of previous structures. The design is a simple driftwood and thatch structure, with overlapping hammocks to create a fascinating and, importantly, cool and ventilated accomodation area. Using plans drawn up by the group we will now be able to replicate this design across the rest of the camp creating a great place for our future volunteers, with the first groups to try out the new accomodation being our Summer 2012 UK Teams.
And excitingly the water catchment on the accomodation blocks is a step closer to our goal of making all of our camps as sustainable as possible and limiting our impact on the local environment. I can’t wait to see the camp upgraded over the coming weeks and it will be exciting to see the reaction of the first volunteers to see their new home Camp Mantanani.
A big thanks to the Arkitrek Team and our volunteers for making Camp 2 such a great success.
Providing Water Security for local communities has always been a core objective for Camps International and there is always some project ongoing across our locations. It’s World Water Day today and we would like to use this day to highlight some of the work we are doing in Borneo, Cambodia and Kenya. As part of our long term objectives for the Camps International Foundation, we have decided to committ ourselves to increasing our water conservation and security program across our locations. And like everything else, the first commitment is to ensure we are doing as much as we can within our camps and that everyone who travels with us understands the importance of conserving water. Everyone of us needs to do our bit. So to everyone out there, we would like to ask two things:
1. Please use water in camps conservatively and remember in our parts of the world, a flushing toilet or a shower everyday is a luxury. We will continue to do our best to put recycling systems in place as we have done in many of our camps but every single drop counts.
2. If anyone is interested in helping towards our various water security projects, please do make a donation through the Camps International Foundation and specify it is for water projects. We guarantee 100% of any donations through the foundation will be earmarked for projects.
There are serious issues with water on Mantanani due to the isolated and delicate nature of the island which has a unusually high water leading to both the benefit of close water access for the inhabitants but also the high than normal risk of the water table becoming contaminated by outside pollutants.
Our efforts at water conservation and protection on the island are twofold, and incorporate practical and educational elements.
At Camp Mantanani itself we already have a water catchment/rainwater harvesting system which feeds our toilets and garden. We will soon be installing a grey water recycling system using a sand filter process that will both increase the available water storage and also limit the impact of gray water on the water table.
At our landmark project on the island, the Kindergarten next to the primary school, we will be installing a rain water harvesting system also and will be using this to help introduce water management and permaculture ideals to the local community alongside our other marine conservation and permaculture education programmes.
In Beng Mealea, our water management programme also encompasses both our own camp, in an effort to limit our own impact and be more sustainable and also live by the standards we teach, as well as the projects we are working on.
At the camp we have limited our water usage by constructing waterless composting toilets. Alongside these all other water use in the camp is fed into our grey water leech field which, recycles the grey water and uses the run off to feed our Permaculture orchard feeding papaya and banana trees.
Of our water management projects in Beng Mealea, the most urgent is at the local high school which has very little water storage despite having four large classroom blocks available for water capture. At the moment only one out of eight available sloping roofs is used for water capture, which is fed to a 15k litre concrete tank that we refurbished in 2011. Before this tank was repaired the only available water source for the entire school of 600 children was a large pond which was empty during the dry season and barely drinkable during the rainy season.
We aim to install water catchment on the remaining 7 sloping roofs and build a new ablutions block to replace the one current toilet they have to help limit the natural waste polluting the current pond.
This year, we have just undertaken a technical assessment and plan (thank you GreenWater!) to recycle all shower water at our main camp in Muhaka to the proposed Trust House vocational school we are building. Water from the showers will go through a natural cleaning system and this july, we will be constructing a large pond which will act as the main water source for the farm. Additionally, we are starting the graywater recylcing system which will be ready for the summer at Camp Kaya. Water from your showers, will be recycled back to the toilets for flushing and extra water will go through a natural filter and be a reservoir for the new tree nursery at the forest
This year alone in Kenya we have been very fortunate to receive additional donations that have allowed us to completely overhaul the water catchment system at Muhaka Dispensary. I
can’t thank the 2011 Nurse team (a.k.a Kenya Gappers) who raised approximately £2500 which was enough funds to change all the roofs at the dispensary, paint them with a special protective paint, put in new gutters, and put in two new tanks at the dispensary. The dispensary now has over 15,000lts of water storage facilities. We also recieved a small donation from the Herbert family which used to buy additional gutters and install one more 1000lt tank at Imani Women’s Group.
That’s just a snippet of what is happening at the moment and we know we can do so much more. We just received a video made by Vineel who travelled to Kenya for three months last year. He raised an additional fund which was used to provide a water source to a local nursery school at Muhaka. The video below really sums up how every little drop counts and yes, every penny will save another drop…
As if we aren’t busy enough here in Camps Asia with Gappers, International Schools and preparing for our busiest Summer Team Season so far, we still like to keep things interesting with other projects.
You may remember that we recently helped with Dr Nick Pilcher’s research into the affects of Blast Fishing on the marine habitat around Mantanani and you’ll be glad to learn that the experiment was a success in that it has tested the methodolgy and equipment, produced interesting results and paves the way for further research in the coming year to help collect data that will make a big difference in the fight to ban the practice of Fish Bombing in Sabah.
And on a related note, below is a GPS log of the movements of some of the juvenile turtles Dr Nick has tagged off Mantanani in recent years and you can see one (Hello Wallace) has made a bid for a new life away from Mantanani, which is vitally important to understand as very little is know aout the period between hatching and adult life and Nick’s work is helping to fill that gap. That star in the middle of the coloured scrawls is Mantanani and Wallace is the green line heading North East.
Also on Mantanani in the coming days we will be hosting our second group of Architects taking part in Arkitrek 2, a three week expedition to bring together young and proffesional architects from across Malaysia, Europe and America to design and build an environmentally sustainable structure that promotes eco-tourism and supports community development. You may remember that last year the Arkitrek came up with this amazing structure below, our Marine Conservation Programme Centre. I can’t wait to see what happens this year.
Moving away from the island to the deep jungles across Southern Sabah, in the coming weeks we will be supporting the work of a scientist from Canada, Michael Galante, who will be running experiments and collecting research into the micro-ecosystems and carbon capacity of forest areas in various states of regeneration from Virgin through to primary and secondary jungle. It should be fascinating work as the groups live inside the jungle for periods of 2-3 weeks in three seperate areas.
Phew! I’m tired just thinking about all of that, and i didn’t even mention the work our Gappers did supporting an art installation as part of a week long celebration of the Heritage of Kota Kinabalu by helping to construct a huge bamboo monolith and cannon (I kid you not!) More on that and the ongoing projects above soon!