Kampung Tikalod is a small remote village some 70 miles north east of Kota Kinabalu. To describe it as a village is a stretch of the concept, it is rather a collection of 10 dwellings that has grown up over one kilometre of forest track.
On our arrival, most of the homes were represented by villagers who greeted us and those who didn’t greet us peered out through their stilted homes wondering who these strangers were. After their initial reluctance the villagers, particularly the children, warmed to our enthusiasm and willingness to engage them with typical childhood activities; paper games and arts and crafts.
Communication problems didn’t dampen the activities and we soon learnt some basic phrases including:
Nama saya – what is your name?
Bagus – good
Pagi – Morning
Terima Kasih – Thank you
It was great that all the villagers seemed enthusiastic about our presence and even better when they all turned out to cut wood for our proposed sleeping accommodation for the volunteers. Even the eight-year-old was a dab hand with a parang and put us to shame as they hopped up and down the slopes with the timber whilst we slipped and slid trying to keep our balance.
The combination of the intense work, heat and effort tired us out so it was good that we could spend the afternoon with many of the children of the community finding out more about their lives.
We were taken aback by the limited facilities in the village. There was no reliable and safe water supply. No toilets. The primary school was a two hour walk away, the secondary school was a five hour walk away which meant the young people needed to stay in a local hostel.
We were shown the proposed water catchment area. It involved a steep climb up to a small stream then a hike downstream to an appropriate site for a ram pump.
We hope to dam the water course, pipe it to the ram pump which should raise the supply to six water tanks at the highest point near the first home in the village. From there we hope to gravity feed the supply to all of the houses and hope that there will be a stable sustainable supply available. Our back up plan involves a rainwater catchment system at the other end of the village which would be used should the stream dry up in the summer. We’re also hoping to build three toilets spread out near to the three main areas of habitation.
There is plenty to do and we’ve grown to love the community even in our short three-day Project Planning Visit. We were made so welcome by the villagers that we are passionate about our aim to improve access to water, health and sanitation by fulfilling a number of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Chris will be in Kampung Tikalod for the next three weeks to help kick start work on the nine-week project. He will be joined by two other Volunteer Project Managers as well as nine volunteers for the first stage of the project.
Contact any of our volunteers by completing the linked contact form. We will pass your messages and words of encouragement on to the volunteers during our project loops.
Words and photography by Volunteer Project Manager Chris.