There are many ways of encountering happiness throughout one’s life. For some you will find happiness through sports, for others it could be from success but, for me, it is simply the connection and joy I get from helping people. Surrounded by so many distractions in my life back home it can be hard to find the time to care and to help those who need it most.
We travelled along a lengthy and windy dirt road to get to Kampung Tikalod. There was nothing to be seen on the journey other than miles and miles of rainforest which gave a real feeling of getting lost in the jungle. Once in a while we would pass some rubber tree plantations and some locals crouched beside the road. After the bumpy off-road journey, we arrived in the village of Tikalod.
At first glance the village seemed bare with only a few houses made from wood with tin roofs. The community members were sat on the balcony of one of the houses patiently awaiting their next Raleigh visitors. They had staring eyes and curious looks but we were greeted with nothing less than excited smiles. We quickly learned that there was much more to community than what first met the eye. We learned they had pineapple and rubber tree plantations, dozens of animal traps deep in the jungle, some tapioca and, most importantly, an enormous sense of community.
This community phase is not only most impactful to the people living here, but also to us. Back home, we take most commodities such as fresh running water, electricity and sanitation for granted. People in other parts of the world are forced to live in extreme poverty, struggle with preventable and curable diseases, and live surrounded by litter. Being exposed to these conditions has not only given us a sense of appreciation for our privileged lives but, even more so, has driven us to want to make changes in the world we are living in.
One day while we were working on the project site building one of the toilets, we realised we were being watched from afar by one of the young girls in the village. Turney was her name. As we started walking away for lunch we asked her if she would like to join for food. She gladly agreed and told us she would not have been having lunch at home.
We sat around drawing, playing games, and having some crackers and milo while awaiting the rest of the volunteer team to return from their work sites. As I looked around there seemed to be an unexplainable look of happiness fixed on everyone’s faces. A look that could only be gained from the gratefulness of sharing. It is a feeling within all of us that is easily forgotten. It is often buried amongst the need for greed of power and success which is slowly deteriorating our core beliefs and respect for one another.
Later that day we had the opportunity to start up a game of volleyball. Despite the pouring rain, the muddy road and the exhaustion from a big day of work, there was nowhere else any of us would rather be. We were surrounded by the local elders who were laughing with such enjoyment as they watched us young fools. We were splashing each other and were covered in mud. It gave us all the opportunity to forget the negatives and share our happiness. We were appreciating every second of that moment. The rest of the team and I will definitely be making the very most of this opportunity and enjoy the many more moments to come during this project.
I feel especially privileged to be a part of this Raleigh Borneo expedition, in particular, this final part of the project in Kampung Tikalod. The idea that villagers here will be left with a little bit more than when we arrived is heart-warming. Not only will they have toilets and a clean safe water supply for the first time, they will also be left with lasting memories, as will we. Although some people may not have much to share, one thing we can all do is share our time and effort. I truly believe that through this happiness can be found.
Words by volunteer Jacques.
Photographs by photographer Daniel Buttifant, Communications Officer Rebecca Raab and Volunteer Project Manager Chris.
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.