Miri – 11 July 2011 – Three student ambassadors of the John Curtin Leadership Academy (JCLA) of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) are teaming up with Kelabit community project enthusiast Rachel Kedung Bulan and the Rurum Kelabit Sarawak (RKS) for a community project in Bario from 11 to 16 July 2011.
Ambassadors Mohsen Taheri, Eze Oriekwo and Syed Jamal Kazmi, along with Rachel and the Rurum Kelabit Sarawak, are driving a project called ‘Project Don’t Dump Bario’ or ‘Ngebata, Ngeribed Bario’ aimed at promoting sustainable waste disposal in Bario. The project also involves team secretary Joanne Liaw Siaw Wen and an environmentalist from Japan, Naoko Sumiyoshi.
The JCLA is Curtin University’s student leadership programme developed in honour of John Curtin, the fourteenth Prime Minister of Australia and after whom the university is named, with the objectives of instilling his three core values of Vision, Leadership and Community Service.
‘Ngebata Ngeribed Bario’ literally means ‘Green, Beautiful Bario’, and the project involves educating the community on the benefits of environmental practices such as decomposition of bio-degradable waste and practising the 3Rs of environmental sustainability (reduce, reuse and recycle), as well as eventually setting up a suitable waste disposal system that will benefit the community.
Setting up of the system is scheduled under Phase 3 of the project in the second half of the year and is dependent on the resources the community can provide.
Phases 1 and 2, which are planning and development stages, are currently being carried out with the support of Shell under its ‘We Care, We Share’ programme. Besides the awareness campaign, they involve dialogue with local community leaders, students and teachers. Project patron Dato Sebastian Ting, who is the political secretary to the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, will be in Bario for the closing ceremony on 16 July.
According to Rachel, who is the project manager, the idea for the project emanated from a conversation she once had with her cousins while hanging out on a bridge along a river near her grandaunt’s house in Bario.
“We reminisced about the old days when we were able to swim in the river, and lamented at how it was no longer possible because of the rubbish flowing down the river. The lack of proper waste management has tarnished the beautiful image of Bario,” related Rachel.
She attributed this to the new stage of development Bario is going through. The once isolated settlement is now accessible not only by air but also by land with the introduction of new roads. Furthermore, people around the world are aware of the Bario highlands via the Internet and the community is experiencing an unprecedented influx of people, including tourists. All these have contributed to the rapid development of Bario, according to Rachel.
“With development, the generation of waste is growing constantly. We hope that through this project, the beautiful image of Bario will be restored and sustained. We also hope that it will be an example for other rural communities to follow,” she added.
Bario is situated northeast of Miri and can be reached by taking a 45-minute flight or a 14- hour drive on timber road. Bario is known for its highland rice, pineapples and salt springs. It is featured in the well-known travel guide, Lonely Planet, which has brought many tourists to the community. The progressive community has established many precedents, including being the first rural settlement to have a working Internet connection through its e-Bario project.
In praising the project team for its bold effort, Curtin Sarawak’s University Life Manager Haslina Abdul Malek, who oversees the JCLA, said, “We are very proud of what Mohsen, Eze and Syed Jamal, as well as Rachel and Joanne, who are also students of Curtin Sarawak, are doing in Bario. We wish them every success in the project.”
According to Haslina, Curtin Sarawak provides potential students the opportunity to apply to be in the JCLA. They are shortlisted based on their academic performance and co-curricular activities commitment. For more information on the JCLA, contact Haslina at +60 85 443939 or e-mail [email protected]