After fundraising an epic £4,300 each, plus money for vaccinations, ‘Team Shama’, a group of students from Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form and Ashfield School, left for a four week expedition to the Sabah region of Borneo with Camps International. The expedition required hard work, mixing cement by hand, digging foundations for new community centres, laying bricks and planting trees, but we felt it was just as rewarding as the positive impact of our work was obvious to see.
A major part of this trip was getting to know the people we were helping. Walking down to the village to play volleyball with the local children, teaching them English and attending their sports day may seem small but made a big impression on us. We were able to connect with both the locals, the Camps International employees and those from the other school with friendly competition in village games and within camp, earning ourselves the ‘Tinangol Cup’ at our first camp.
A large portion of the expedition revolved around conservation work, something vital in an area exploited by tourism and deforestation. We had the opportunity to replant trees in part of the rainforest that had been damaged by forest fires, managing to cut down and transfer over 400 trees from a section of forest planned to be cleared for palm oil plantation, replanting them in an empty swamp. This means the trees that would have been cut down and burnt are being used to help offset the carbon footprint of human activities. Another conservation-based part of this trip was our time spent on Mantanani Island. In the evenings we would embark on beach clean ups, collecting around 1,300 bottles (while trying to avoid the cows roaming the beach) alongside litter left by the island’s tourists. On this island, we also got to learn more about coral reefs, turtles, and the conservation of megapodes in the area from locals and researchers working with Camps International.
Not only did we leave Borneo as PADI qualified open water divers and the rewards of helping communities come together, we also left having made many new friends, and having been educated on culture and religion in Borneo. Our visit to church at our last camp, Camp Narawang, was an opportunity to get a real insight into the daily lives of the village inhabitants and was a memorable experience for all who attended, even the non-religious of us. We all aim to participate in projects like this in the future, as we could feel the impact we had made and are looking forward to meeting more inspirational volunteers.
By Megan Scupham (Year 13)
Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form, Laundry Lane, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 0XS
Main Office - 01603 497711 | Student Absence Line - 01603 497722
The Yare Education Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with company number 10301555. The registered office is at Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form, Laundry Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 0XS. (Telephone - 01603 497711)