|Report||We boarded the bus on a gray raining Friday morning, happy in the knowledge that we were missing an extra day of school. A more moderate sized group than in previous years, 19 students volunteers and 4 chaperones depart Kansai International airport at 11am for Kota Kinabalu and our ultimate destination Kuching. We stayed in the comfortable Telang Usan hotel. Kuching Habitat is very well organized and on our first morning Angelina gave the group a thorough briefing and we were ready to go. Following our briefing Sara and Sean, aided by their parents Sam and Min gave us an overview of Kuching and a wonderful walking tour of Kuching. Kuching is a small manageable city with many interesting places that you can safely explore. Sam and Min arranged for our group to try a traditional Malay breakfast, which set us up for the day ahead.
The work site was between 45 and 60 minutes from the hotel, depending on the driver and therefore the route. All the drivers were friendly but some had a better sense of direction than others. Thankfully Malaysian GPS (stop and ask someone to lead you) worked like a charm!
The worik site was in a beautiful spot, nestled on the edge of the jungle and over looking the local elementary school. Habitat was building two houses for two brothers. The sister was already living next to the site and one of the brothers was sharing the house. The families were warm, friendly and happy to see us and we settled into our work straight away. The person that made our trip so special was Eric Yap our awesome site manager who approached everything in a positive helpful manor. This isn't an easy task when you have 20+ novice builders with 20+ questions. Eric was fantastic and marshalling, encouraging and working with us.
On the Sunday of our trip the villagers challenged us to a soccer match, at this point I should point out that I played for the home team - just to integrate cultures etc. The final score, home side 7 visitors 6! It was a great way to meet the villagers and have some fun in the process. We were also lucky enough to be asked to visit the local elementary school and we were well prepared with gifts from Japan. The students had just completed their exams and were getting ready to break ofr a long Christmas holiday. Our visit culminated in the biggest game of duck, duck, goose I have ever seen!
On the site, Eric and the family had already built the roof, which gave us welcome shade from the sun. Our job began with digging trenches for foundations and bending steel for the reinforced concrete. We mixed a lot of concrete during our time and learnt a great deal about reinforcing this concrete. The final day we were able to start laying bricks and seeing the hard work we put into the foundations really pay off. We left the site with mixed emotions, happy that we had worked so hard but sad that we couldn't have seen the project through further.
Our last day in Kuching was spent with the Orangutans and souvenier shopping before and 8pm flight back to Kuala Lumpur and onto Osaka.
If you are planning a Habitat trip and Malaysia is on your short list, visit Kuching. The Kuching group is well run by people who truly care. Angelina and Eric are just two of the wonderful people from Habitat Kuching that helps us derectly, behind the scenes is dedicate group of people helping Malaysians, build homes and build hope.