Miri – 19 August 2015 – Student and staff volunteers of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) will be putting the values of vision, leadership and community service advocated by John Curtin, the influential and widely-revered former Prime Minister of Australia from whom the university takes its name, into action during its annual John Curtin Weekend (JCW) projects this September and October.
John Curtin Weekend is one of the university’s largest and longest running community outreach projects, providing opportunities for volunteers to carry out activities in rural communities such as building refurbishment, educational workshops and organising dialogues and cultural events with the villagers.
Organised by the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Centre (LEC) of Curtin Sarawak, this year’s JCW will impact six different rural communities in Northern Sarawak and over 250 volunteers will be involved.
JCW has its origins in John Curtin Day at Curtin University in Western Australia, a celebration of the day John Curtin was elected as Prime Minister on October 7, 1941. It was first organised in 1998, with medals being awarded to those who demonstrated Curtin’s values of vision, leadership and community service.
The following year, students and staff turned those values into action by organising weekend-long community projects which soon came to be known as ‘John Curtin Weekends’.
JCW now spans all of Curtin’s Australian and international campuses and is run concurrently at all the campuses, usually over two consecutive weekends in September or October.
The JCW 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 organised jointly with members of the communities.
The volunteers, particularly the international students and students from other states, find it quite a unique experience compared to other voluntary projects conducted by Curtin Sarawak.
“John Curtin Weekend is an extraordinary programme for our volunteers,” said Curtin Sarawak’s University Life Manager, Haslina Malek. “In addition to giving back to the community, the volunteers get to experience the traditional lifestyles, rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality of the people of Sarawak,”
In 2014, the volunteers worked with four Iban communities at Rumah Salin, Rumah Selan, Rumah Rajid and Rumah Ree. They also worked with three Kedayan communities at Kampung Kelulit, Kampung Padang Sibuti and Kampung Iran.
Apart from setting up mini libraries and doing maintenance work on village amenities, the volunteers collaborated with the Miri Division Health Department to carry out basic health and dental check-ups, as well as conducted first aid training for the villagers.
“While the communities benefit greatly from our collaboration, it is important to note that these projects, like all others, require a certain amount of funding. We try to do as much as we can with the little funds we have, but certain projects require a bit more funding,” Haslina remarked.
“As such, sponsorship is most welcome. We urge corporate bodies to step forward and work with us while fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities,” she added.
This year, Curtin Sarawak’s JCW is scheduled to be held over two weekends from 2 to 4 October and 9 to 11 October. Communities that wish to be involved in JCW and organisations interested to sponsor can contact Anita Drahman by calling 085-443939 ext. 3065 or emailing her at [email protected]rtin.edu.my.