Agape, an NGO that focuses on youth development with the underprivileged , got a number of our youth to join them on a charity programme to help the Penan people at Sarawak. Gillian, the Shelter 2 manager went with them as well. Since there’s so much that has happened in this trip, Gillian decided to break it down to a day- to- day “journal”.
Day 1: We took two flights, one was KL to Miri and the other was Miri to Mulu. We travelled by boat to the Penan village of Batu Bungan. The boys were housed in one building and the girls stayed in the kindergarten. The youth loved bathing in the river! It rained though, so after evening activities of Perseverance Push, we watched a movie.
Day 1 - Our Youth along other participants
Day 2: The youth got to visit three caves - Clearwater Caves, Cave of the Winds, Lang Caves, and the most amazing of all is the Deer Caves. The youth bathed in the Clearwater Caves. We had to walk 3 km in the rain to the Deer Caves. Deer Caves has the largest cave passage in the world. We stayed to watch the bats fly out and it was awesome. At night, Reena*, Lily* and another youth leader led an evening session - the first youth leaders to do so! Reena really stepped up!
Day 2 - An adventure through the river!
Day 3: The youth took turns teaching the local village children - about 30 of them - and building the foundation of the playground. Mei* helped to pick rocks from the river for the foundation! She is really sporting! Tim* was AMAZING with the children... So fatherly and the kids loved him to bits!
Day 4: Continue teaching and we mixed cement which was so much fun! One lady peering at us said, "Many people come here to do activities in the village, but you are the first group to show love to our children." On this day, Ji* also stepped up to show much love to the children. The youth walked 45 mins to get to the nearest shop! They went there to order the food they wanted to give to the villagers with the money they had painstakingly raised.
Day 5: Teaching and more mixing and laying of the cement. Reena was a STAR. The hardest working of them all!
Day 5 - The hard work of mixing cement!
Day 6: More teaching and construction work, but it began to rain so heavily that we told the youth to stop construction in the afternoon. They screamed with joy and ran to play football in the rain! Afterwards because the water level in the river was too high, they had to bathe under the eaves of the roof! At night, the girls got scared because it continued raining until the entire village was flooded! The water level was very high! The groceries that the youth ordered arrived as the lady delivering them refused to deliver later. Our youth had to wade through the flood waters and pouring rain to collect the boxes of food for the villagers. These boxes burst open because they were soggy. Not a word of complaint from the youth! By evening, they waded in the water to collect their bags and we brought all our materials and things and huddled upstairs.
Day 6 - Football under the rain, really great fun!
Day 7: The whole place was underwater! Unfortunately, so was our construction and some of the sand we had painstakingly carted which was swept away too... Not much left. Tim waded through shin high water to collect the girls' mattresses. The hall was also filled with water, but our youth did not let that stop them running a wonderful Sports Day for the children! After that, they followed the children and carried heavy loads of oil, sugar, salt rice etc. to the villagers’ houses which were made of bamboo. At night we had affirmation circle.
Day 7 - Bringing the groceries to the villagers
Day 8: We didn't have time for anything but leaving, but boy, did they cry!
A group photo with the Penan Kids!
*Names have been changed for identity protection