The first evening we were introduced to the community at Jalian’s house, a science teacher at the school and one of the heads of the community. We had a meeting about all the plans and ideas for the upcoming weeks and the role of the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Committee. After this, we all ate a wonderful feast which everyone added to. We were intrigued as to how the ‘space chicken kebab skewers’ would go down, but Karl, one of the boys, seemed to love them. Karaoke was then brought out and we learned not all of us were natural singers! The community sang beautiful Malay songs whilst we stuck to classic Spice girls.
Our community phase has certainly got underway with a full sense of community spirit. On Saturday we made our first trip up to the dam site along with the community. After the initial effort, involving unrolling two 100m pipes to make for easy carrying, our Alpha 1 team spread along its length between local men and teenagers. With the pipe on our shoulders, and sun on our faces, we began our procession into the jungle above the village. There was a great sense of positivity and energy, especially from the local girls who provided jungles vine tiaras for us on our way up – the boys loved them!
We encountered varied terrain as we travelled along the pipe route. Someone was always there to offer a hand over the river crossings or trickier climbs up the bank. We all worked together to heave the pipe through the trees. Even the villagers’ dogs joined us on the trek, walking beside everyone. This created a nice feeling of community involvement.
We arrived at the dam site which was bustling with men constructing and women sitting around a kettle hanging over the fire. The children welcomed us at the waterfall with an eagerness to take selfies. The level of community spirit was higher than I’d expected. The gravity fed water system was obviously a very special and important development for the people of Buruni, so it was no wonder that so many wanted to be involved. I felt happy to be a part of it, as did the rest of the team. The smiles on the kids’ faces kept us going through the hot and sweaty moments, as did the amazing view of the waterfall and surrounding jungle.
Sarah, one of HCVs:
Community is great because we are gaining so many new and special experiences. We had a BBQ with the villagers where everyone brought food for a pot -luck dinner. It was nice to see such a gathering by the locals and to enjoy campfire songs. I’ve enjoyed teaching my fellow Alpha 1 team some Malay phrases for them to use with the villagers. We attended the local church on a Sunday, which I enjoyed as there were some lovely performances by the locals. We were even invited to perform on stage! In addition, we have been to bed under a full and beautiful sky of stars almost every night.
We were thrown straight into work, continuing the construction of the first tandas where only the foundations were in position. We learnt we were not all natural hammer wielders as we got carried away by missing the nail more often than not! It was an exciting first project with a few community people helping out , who, more often than not, showed us how it was done. We finished the structure of the tandas after the first two days in Buruni and started adding the finishing touches by painting it a vibrant blue to make stand out. The house below watched over us and we hope that they’re looking forward to having access to a tandas.
Words by Eleanor, Sarah, Lucy and Jess. Supporting words by Florence and photos by Larysa.
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18-20 Nov: Loop visits A2
25 Nov: Changeover 2
27 Nov: Phase 3 deploys