Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back to Nature - Trees

No words to describe but with an open eyes and open mind we can see lots of things when we walk inside the forest. Mother nature have a lots of things to show us and this is part of it. Even trees have so many different shape and size.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cultural Meets - The Last Part

Okay, this is the last part of my visit so let see what i got here.

This is the traditional games for Murut people (*note that the girl is not Murut's, she is Dusun from Keningau. She is one of the participant that take part in this game). They call this game "Rampanau", walking using bamboos. As you can see, Murut people depends so much on bamboo in terms of handicrafts until games. So, bamboo is really important for them.

This is how you stand on this bamboo and start walking as usual. It was very high and i tried a few times and i keep on falling. I can not make it even one step. I just can't balance my body when i stand on that bamboo. I tell you, it is really difficult for first timer like me. But it always interesting when it is the first time.
The traditional costumes for Murut's women. It looks gorgeous right. I plan to make one for my own collections.

At last i have my onw photos to share here. For men, this is how thier traditional costume looks like.

Just to show my own picture with the Murut's lady.

This is some of my new friend that i met during the Cultural Meets. She is from Kota Marudu and she is from Rungus tribe.

The last but not least, my brothers during the Cultural Meets and they are my new friends too. Naughty but a good friend that i met. We stay at the same house, our foster family during this events.
That's all i can share about my recent trip to Murut's village. Hope you guys enjoy reading my experienced for that three days.

Cultural Meets - The Bamboo Handicrafts

On the third day the villagers started to displays their handicrafts and other forest products in their traditional bamboo hut. Murut’s had very unique and pretty handicrafts especially the pattern of their weaving. Each pattern has its own story on how they get the idea of that pattern. Some of it very interesting.

However, in this village they need more exposure to create new design for their products. They only know how to make the traditional design which they use in their daily life. Instead of continues to produce the same design, they need more exposure creating something new which outside market demand for, such as tissue box, hair band, hand bag, bangle etc. If they are planning to market their products they have to be innovative and start to make new design.

It has been a few months and they are getting better now when they started to produce new products. I did learn a little bit from them but it is really hard work and tests my patience. I am sure this community will come out with great and amazing products with guidance from experts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cultural Meets - The Kids

As I walk around the village I saw a group of young kids gather near one of the traditional bamboo hut. Something comes up in my mind which I feel like to know them better. I stop by and greet them. I know they will be very excited if I took photos of them so I ask them to stand up and give me a pose. They did it and from only six there more coming until I have to ask them to relax. Then I ask their names one by one and they seem to be interested with me too. They were asking me who I am and where I am from. They are between age 4-10 years old, boys and girls.

Then i continue with my hidden agenda. I ask them what they want to be when they grow up. I asked one by one and seem to be almost all of them want to become a teacher. Besides that, there are a few wanted to become a police, army, doctor, singer and there was one young girl give me an interesting answer. She wanted to become an NGO. Actually there was one NGO that working in their village and she wanted to become like them. However, the other kids laugh at her and they belittle her. But I show my interest and pleased her for her answer. Then I asked further, why she wanted to become an NGO. She said she like to travel and visit villages. She wanted to visit and work with communities. Actually she only eight years old and really what the NGO doing in their village attracts her interest. This is a good sign and I hope when she grow up this ambition will keep in her heart and mind. We need younger generations to continue working with communities.
After that, I continue requesting a few things from them. I ask them if they can sing a song for me and I tell you, they can sing very well. Harmony and it was a very good choir. At first they sang Malay songs and then I requested for Murut’s song and they did it too. These kids are really good.

I am not done with them, I asked them to dance their traditional dance. They are so excited and they make one round and started to dance. In the hut the older groups put up an audio system so they help me with the music. They played a Murut’s dancing music and those kids started to dance. But…..the things that make me a bit disappointed when they are not dancing Murut’s traditional dance. They are doing Sumazau dance, the traditional dance of Kadazan-Dusun.

Hmmm….this is something weird but maybe this is an influence from outside or maybe because the elders didn’t teach them Murut’s dance. No further comments on this but I still praise these kids for their effort on doing all the things that I asked.

Knowing these kids is also really great experienced for me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cultural Meets - Food Preparations

Alright let us continue to Part 2 of my trip. On the first day of the events we are waiting for the participants to arrive. It actually takes about one hour drive from the nearest town to the host village. However, it is not a tar road but a gravel plantation/logging road. So, it quite rough and not comfortable journey using four wheels drive transport.
Okay, what I really like for that day was, I was amazed by the housewives preparing food for the guests and participants. They really work as a team. I sit with them and asking about the traditional food that they make. Almost all of the vegetables are forest products and it is so fresh.
They told me they look for it the day before and that’s why it still so fresh. From what I remember, they have two different species of gingers, “kantan” and “tuhau”(will find information on this two species of gingers soon, I don’t have my gingers of Borneo field guide book with me now), “kangkung”, wild fruits ( I also not sure what species of tree is that but it is really sour), rattan shoots and few more and I can’t remember it well. All the info I get, especially the name was in Murut language.
The way they prepare it also quite unique and it was the first time I eat tapioca cooked in bamboo. Usually for Dayak from Sarawak they have “Ayam Pansuh” means chicken cooked in bamboo. The taste quite nice and smells good.
The food preparations also interesting to observed because they do it together as a team. During festivals or events like this we can see this team spirit among the villagers. Still I find it interesting even though the same thing also still happens in my own village.

Green Champion

I met this lady in Nov 2003 where i was attached with EEU for my 10 weeks practical training. I admire her passion and spirit in environmetal education. However, i am too naive and i didn't take the opportunity to learn as much as i could from her. I love nature very much but i still didn't do much things for it.

Here i found an article from The Star Online about this lady and i am happy to share it with you guys. How amazing she is. Knowing her is the best thing and hopefully early next month i can met her up and talk about EE programme.

By Ian BehThe Star - December 28, 2008
Vibrant, fun and passionate are some of the words used to describe Bernadette Joeman.
Bernadette, or ‘Benn’ as she is fondly known, is the environmental education programme coordinator of the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sepilok.

“At an early age, I really liked the environment. I dreamt of being involved in a job related to it when I grew up,” said Benn, 40.

It was however not the most conventional of ambitions. Local universities did not offer degrees in environmental education, and Benn’s best option then was to study something related to nature.“I had to a get a degree in Zoology first, then specialise in ‘conservation and ecological biology ‘.

Benn was so determined to achieve her dream that she was not daunted even when her application to study zoology was rejected twice.

“I had to apply three times for the Zoology course at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). My application was not successful the first two times. When I put in my application for the third time, I went to see the dean of the faculty of life sciences there and asked him to give me a chance. I got it!”

After she graduated, Benn applied for the position of Environmental Education Programme Programme at the fledgling Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sepilok. She started out as a volunteer for five months before finally landing the job in 1997.

“I did not know what to expect from the job,” she says. “But I went into it with an open mind. I was told that it involved teaching and interacting with many people. It sounded like fun to me. More importantly, it was a job related to the environment. I knew I would love it.”

Benn oversees RDC’s education programme. She plans educational activities and runs them with her dedicated team. Besides that, Benn inspects the educational facilities to make sure they are in ‘tip-top’ condition.

“Everything has to be perfect, I feel a person must always give their 100 percent in everything they do. They have to put their heart and soul into their work and be passionate about it. Only then something can be done well.”

“I never find any of the environmental education programmes dull! People ask me, ‘Benn, you do these courses week after week, don’t you feel bored?’ I say no. Each course is attended by different people with different opinions,” she says. “I always believe it is a challenge to educate any individual on the environment, regardless of their background. There is always an opportunity to educate.”

Benn believes a good educator is one who is able to hold the attention of his audience. To achieve this, she says the educator has to be enthusiastic. “If I am not enthusiastic when I present, how can I expect my class to be enthusiastic as well? It is impossible, the class will not come alive at all. I try my best to be as enthusiastic as possible every time.”

Through her environmental education programmes, Benn has reached out to people from all walks of life. Executives, professors, teachers, students, you name it!

She has fond memories of a course she did for a group of disabled children.

“We had to get their attention. It was a huge challenge for the team. We had to wade into the pond with them and help them sense and feel the rainforest. That really was a lot of fun!”
Benn feels environmental education in schools can be improved. The RDC runs courses for primary and secondary school teachers. These programmes aim to expose the teachers to the rainforest and give them a unique experience outside the classroom.

“I hope with all my heart that the teachers manage to discover new ways of teaching their students about the rainforest. It would be great for the environment if every bit of their newfound passion is transferred to their students.”

The biggest challenge for Benn is changing people’s attitude towards the environment.

“Changing mind sets is very important, but difficult. at the same time. People need the right attitude to care and be concerned about the environment. Many people do not care, especially when being green is not as convenient as polluting. They have to understand they can contribute to a better and cleaner place to live in. I feel great joy when I succeed in influencing a person to do their bit for the environment, ”

Benn hopes to do some research to investigate more effective ways to get people to love and care for the environment.

“It is something I really want to do,” she says. “I want to know whether what I have been doing has really been effective, and improve our current education methods.”

And we can be sure she will be whole-hearted in this pursuit too.