Miri – 23 September 2011 – Curtin Volunteers! (CV!), the main student volunteer organisation of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak), recently carried out the first segment of its John Curtin Weekend community outreach project (JCW 2011) to reach out to rural longhouse communities surrounding Miri.
The annual project, which honours Australia’s fourteenth Prime Minister after whom Curtin University is also named, was initiated in Australia by the CV! main chapter at Curtin University 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.
According to University Life Officer Ansovinus Bonus Chai, who is advisor to the CV! Chapter at Curtin Sarawak, JCW 2011 is being held over two weekends, from 16 to 18 September and from 23 to 25 September 2011, in six rural communities near Miri.
A total of 208 volunteers comprising students, staff and their family members will be involved and will be assigned to the various communities.
He added that, having carried out the project for five years, it has become very popular with students and staff of the university and there are always eager volunteers wanting to join. Among the volunteers this year are the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Curtin Sarawak, Professor Ian Kerr, and his deputy, Professor Alistair Inglis, who are participating for the first time.
This year, the participants are staying with foster families in the communities for three days and two nights. The first group was despatched to Rumah Baie, Rumah Lani and Rumah Johnson last weekend, and another group will be heading to Rumah Genethan, Rumah Jareks and Rumah Nunong this weekend.
At the different locations, the volunteers carry out a variety of activities such as ‘gotong-royong’ with the villagers to paint and restore buildings, holding cultural and sporting events with them, as well as conducting educational workshops for their youth. At Rumah Johnson, Curtin Sarawak lecturer Ellison Ludan Muyan, who is also the President of the Miri Dayak Association, gave a talk on the importance of education, which was well appreciated by the villagers.
As part of the JCW 2011 initiative, the CV! carried out a ‘Used Items Campaign’ a month prior to the project to collect used items such as books, toys and clothing for donation to the communities.
This year, the CV! has organised several successful charity events including two blood donation drives at the Curtin Sarawak campus and, just recently, a fund-raising drive in aid of the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society, Miri Branch at Bintang Megamall.