Miri – 21 October 2014 – The recently concluded John Curtin Weekend (JCW) programme organised by Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) saw 230 students and staff of the university participating in community service projects at six longhouses near Miri.
The six longhouses were Rumah Entulang, Rumah Salin, Rumah Selan, Rumah Robert, Rumah Ree and Kampung Kelulit. Organised annually by the Curtin Volunteers (CV!), the university’s largest student volunteer organisation, the programme was held over two weekends from 26 to 28 September and 3 to 5 October 2014.
The JCW programme was initiated in Australia by the CV! main chapter at Curtin’s main campus, Curtin Bentley, in Perth and now spans all of Curtin’s Australian and international campuses. It is run concurrently by all CV! chapters each year, usually over two consecutive weekends in September or October.
The programme in Sarawak aims primarily to reach out to longhouse communities and provide the volunteers a taste of rural life through a variety of activities such as carrying out ‘gotong-royong’ with the villagers to spruce up communal buildings, helping out on their farms, organising cultural events with them, and conducting educational workshops for the village children.
This year, the volunteers carried out general cleaning and painting of buildings, gave first aid training, as well as introduced an educational module and gave motivational talks, set up mini libraries and reading corners, and arranged dental check-ups for the children.
The first aid training was conducted by Curtin Sarawak’s Red Crescent Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) while the educational module and motivational talks were delivered by the Curtin Educational Excellence Facilitating Team (E-Fact) and AIESEC Curtin Sarawak Chapter respectively. Meanwhile, the dental check-ups were carried out in collaboration with Poliklinik Miri.
Apart from voluntary work, the volunteers also took part in a cultural event organised by the villagers where they had the opportunity to participate in the Ngajat dance and wore traditional Iban and Kayan costumes and baju kebaya.
According to project manager Valience Chong, in addition to being a unique experience for the non-Sarawakian volunteers, the JCW is a rare opportunity for the Curtin Sarawak community and the longhouse residents to get to know each other.
Another project manager, Elaine Han, remarked that this year’s activities were successful thanks to the generous sponsorships of various organisations and individuals, including 1Malaysia For Youth (1M4U), Miri City Council, Curtin Sarawak’s University Life Department, Nazri Lai, and Pro-Chancellor of Curtin Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam Han.
“On top of that, I would also like to thank the hardworking volunteers for their spirit of volunteerism,” said Han.
A longhouse resident commented that such voluntary programmes greatly benefit rural communities and leave meaningful memories for the villagers.
Apart from JCW, the CV! organise events such as the ‘CV! Love Mission’ where volunteers visit young cancer patients who are being treated in the hospital; ‘CV! Fundraising Project’ to raise funds for orphanages; ‘CV! Bright Smile Campaign’ to encourage students to donate dental care kits to rural communities; beach cleaning campaigns; and other community outreach programmes in support of the local charitable bodies.