Friday, June 1, 2012

Mama @ Work: Banggi, Sabah

Hiya peeps! I'm going to start a new series of writing, mainly about my pawrents and the work they do. Well, my Mama tried starting a new blog dedicated to her work but...eerrmmm...seeing how bad she is at maintaining even MY blog, sustaining her own would be a disaster (as there'll be no feline nagging her there!). Anyway, we don't want to bore you with just the technical detail hence the travelogue feline style we'll be adhering to.

In this first article, we'll take you to a remote island right at the northernmost tip of Borneo. It is called Banggi, the largest among all islands in Malaysia, with a population of about 20,000 people. The people there earn their living by fishing and farming, mostly below the poverty line. Last we heard the government has started a land scheme where the locals get a few hectares of land to farm plus a house and a regular stipend.

Tourism is not a big thing yet and general infrastructure is still so-so. There's only 25km of tarred road and only one ferry service linking the island with the mainland. Last we checked, there are two services in the afternoon (1.30pm and 2.30pm) from Kudat (mainland) to Karakit (island) and another two in the morning (7.30am and 8.30am) from Karakit to Kudat. So, you'll have to really plan your stay there.

What the work was all about? Oh, several months ago Mama's office received a letter from the teachers at the island's only secondary school there, requesting help for some students who have poor eyesight but couldn't afford to buy prescription glasses. Mama's office then initiated a fundraising drive and managed to collect some funds to cover the costs of making the spectacles. Mr Lee, who is Mama's optician at Bangsar Optometry, supplied the frames and glasses at cost. (Thank you Uncle Lee....). In the meantime, the teachers took the students concerned to the hospital and get their eyes examined, took their mugshots and emailed everything to Mama (isn't the internet wonderful???)

As Mama and Dad were already going to visit Sabah for another project, the trip to Banggi was added to the itinerary. They took the 5pm flight from Tawau, reached Kota Kinabalu Airport at almost 7pm, took a taxi to KK, stopped for dinner, then another taxi to Kudat, arrived there three hours later. So they spent some time getting to know Kudat before boarding the 1.30pm ferry to Banggi.

The jetty in Kudat. Lovely clear blue sky there.
The sweet lady manning the ticket "counter" at the ferry terminal.
Economy class at just RM15 one-way.
Hustle and bustle at the jetty in Banggi.
There is no public transport in Banggi but there are private utes for hire. They charge per head per journey.
Dancing troupe, teachers and students await at the school. There was a formal event organised...Mama cringed as she was very casual for the know....jeans and sneakers...
Some of the students who received the spectacles. Mama coined that phrase: Better Vision for Better Future. There's a recording of her speech somewhere.
After the formal event, there was late lunch and then some rest. The two pawpawrazzi didn't rest for too long. They had to explore the island before dark. As I said before, there isn't much tourist attractions yet but they could be interesting if you look hard enough. (OK, that's a pawpawrazzi's philosophy...)

Now...this is interesting. A replica of a bunch of tapioca (also known as cassava). I'm guessing that this is the main produce of the island.
The rest house where they stayed. Old and rickety but clean and NOT haunted.
Where they had dinner - a row of stalls selling fried rice, noodles etc.
"Downtown" Karakit.
Interesting stall selling local produce....
Note the price on the coconut...
...and the cucumber....interesting indeed.
While we applaud the tree planting effort of the locals...err....may we point out that this plant is not a tree? More like...errr...shrub?
The two ferries that would take us back to the mainland the next morning.
Angelina's note: Mama says her organisations accept cash donations that will be used for similar efforts in the future. Not just for spectacles but also for other education related stuffs like books, uniforms, shoes etc. For donations, go to purrr....meow!


The Furries of Whisppy said...

It is so sad that there are still so many people living at or below the poverty line after so many years of independence. Thank you for helping those students see better. :)

Seville at Nerissa's Life said...

This Borneo looks like a pretty neat place. Thanks so much for helping your mom show us what it's like and what she is doing there. purrs

Al-Manar said...

I have had a very long wait to see this series. I admire the kind of effort you and others do in caring for the less fortunate. There are many even around us who live below the poverty line, a relative measurement. It is like school achievements. Highlight and glorify the top 10% and let the bottom 20% be hidden and least talked about.

I was many years in Borneo (then) and my regret is that I did not take the trouble to visit those many islands. But there was poverty enough as one moved into the interior.

A number of children (secondary school!) have received glasses from Almanar as no attempts were seen to be taken to help them at school. There is a Form 2 child now waiting to be taken to an optician. And I am talking about schools just outside the boundary of this new and prosperous city.

I applaud your enthusiasm.

Monyet King said...

Poverty level is very high in Banggi. It is made worse by the fact that fish stock in the waters around Banggi are depleted, due to overfishing.

Kjelle Bus aka Charlie Rascal said...

YAY ! You have won one of the parcels that I raffled out on my blog !
So please E-Miaow me your adress so I can send it to you.
My E-miaow is

Your mom is such a nice mom that helped all the students to get new glasses !
My mom dreams about to take a trip to Borneo some day , who know+s she maybe end up at your stairs ;-)

Photo Cache said...

kudos to your mama kittehs, she is very aware of the needs of others and is willing and able to help. you should be proud to have such a caring, socially conscious mama.

emma and buster

CATachresis said...

Well done to Mama for the work she does. I am interested in anything sight related as I have been diagnosed with glaucoma, though happily at the moment the drops are working :)

Austin sends you a kissy Angelinaxx

Cat-from-Sydney said...

It is very sad indeed. That's why Mama is very gungho when it comes to education. purrr...meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Nerissa dear,
Many parts of Borneo are still untouched by so called modernization, thus have a poignant you don't see elsewhere. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik of Al-Manar,
Wait no more. There'll be more coming this way. We hope more generous people will come forward to support us. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Your Royal Monyetness,
Interestingly, none of stalls offer grilled fish or seafood in their menu. Heaps of meat though. I guess it's because they have electricity so can freeze and store stuffs. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Keller Bus,
Tell your mom to dream no more. We have a spare bedroom.....if she doesn't mind a well furrified bed. purrr...meow!

Oh, will e-miaow later. I love that...e-miaow...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Emma & Buster,
No worries...she has plenty of practice in this sharing and caring at home.... purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Hey Austin...kiss kiss!

Aunty Caro,
My Mama said she was lucky that she had a scholarship when she was in chool, that helped pay for her spectacles. Thus, she really understand these kids. purrrr....meow!

nurmisnan said...

Oh dear... Sabah dah dekat ke Brunei..
Boleh singgah rumah aunty nur.. Next time
ask mama come over ok...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Nur,
Ish ish ish.....jauh lah tempat tu. purrrr....meow!

Sandy of said...

Your mom's work is awesome ! I bet the furkids are proud of her too ^^ Banggi looks like a very beautiful place, lots of potentials there

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Tante Sandy,
You've stayed in Borneo, right? Yeah...pawesome place! purrr....meow!

Sandy of said...

Yeppp..both on the Indonesian and Malaysian sides of it :D

aby said...

driving from KK to Kudat through some scary road surface ..
aby sampai takat kudat n simpang mengayau, tip of Borneo ...
memang sabah is a beautiful place to visit ..

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I look forward to your trip to Sabah each time. It makes me feel closer at home. I don't have much money (:P)but I could donate some seeds when we come back to Malaysia for good to help with school gardening project for your good projects. I have many cousins could not finish their secondary schools because just paying the fees is already hard for them. You really have a kind heart and I thank you for making their lives much better. Importantly giving this kids dreams that they don't dare to dream about.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Uncle Aby,
On the way to Kudat, we didn't notice the condition of the road as it was at night. But on the return leg to KK, we saw the road and marvel at the skill of the taxi drivers. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

MKG dear,
Hmmm....maybe my Mama can retire there, eh? Give tuition to poor about that? purrr....meow!