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Getting to the heart of the Rural Community in Mentu - Ellie Walton

So it’s the first week of our south eastern adventure. First port of call: Kuching. After a long commute to the island from different parts of the world, we all came together in the city where we were able to get to know one another from the leap group. Seth ran through the do’s and don’ts of Malaysian etiquette which we were able to put into place while living within a local community in the south western Bornean village of Mentu.

On our way we stopped off at semengoh wildlife centre, where came face to face with Borneo’s most endangered yet treasured species: the orangutan.

Two hours and one extremely bumpy road later, we arrived at our home for the next ten days. We received nothing less than the warmest of welcomes from “Aunty” and her family. Malaysian culture treats every visitor as a guest by which they care for like they would a relative or close friend. From start to finish, we’ve felt right at home, despite the contrast in cultural context. Before we started the working week, Seth took us down to a local river which was also a destination of leisure and relaxation for locals.

The community project for the leapers this time around was to complete a concrete path to enable villagers to walk with ease and safety over the water drainage systems which we also helped to finish. It took tremendous amounts of blisters, sweat and team work but with the help of local carpenters and guidance from day leaders and Seth; we were able to complete the project on time. Not bad for first timers!

To finish off a hard working week, we had a fulfilled weekend. We trekked to a local waterfall in the nearby jungle, had tucked into several BBQs. A personal highlight was the traditional dancing and music with some of the local villagers. Despite the struggle of keeping up with the villagers, it was really insightful and enjoyable to see more of Malaysian culture from a local perspective. This was invaluable, I can speak for all of us when I say it is something that we wouldn’t have been able to do had we not stayed with a local family right in the centre of such a rural community.

Next week we will be arriving back in Kuching where we will explore a little more before we jet of to our next community project. The next week or so will see us aim to improve the infrastructure of the plantation school in addition to working with the children in English, maths, music and sports activities.

That’s it for now from your April 2018 Leapers.

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