When we signed up for three months volunteering we never expected to be working anywhere quite like Mantanani island off the coast of Borneo.
Mantanani could be described as a true paradise; white sandy beaches, clear blue sea, coral reefs, great weather etc etc. Heaven on earth.
So why have we traveled half way around the world for Camps International to send us volunteering in a community that is living in a place where most of us aspire to live?
Surely the people of Mantanani should be the ones coming to England and helping us make our lives more like theirs.
Well, the islanders do have to suffer a few hardships.
- Electricity: A diesel generator provides electricity between about 18.30 and 05:00 only but is subject to frequent blackouts or not coming in at all.
- Schooling: It’s hard to attract good teachers to the island’s primary school which has led to a high failure rate in the kid’s final exams. Although at a subsidised 25RM (about £5) a year it’s still incredibly good value. As for secondary school, there isn’t one on the island so any children showing academic promise will need to go to a boarding school on the mainland – not something all islanders can afford.
- Tourists: There are now a number of holiday resorts opening up on the island which are bringing a larger and larger amount of (mainly) Chinese tourists each day. Whilst this helps the local economy (and gave us a place to buy cold beer), it is having impacts on the island community; coral reefs are being destroyed, the islanders are losing control of parts of their island and the Chinese are pooing in the village streets.
- Infrastructure: Minimal to no sanitation (sewage or garbage) infrastructure. The week we arrived the island had just got their first mobile network tower, but there is no fibre optic broadband. There is no hospital/doctors surgery.
- Supplies: For anything but fish, it’s a long boat ride to the mainland.
So, it was with these issues in mind that we set about our volunteering to make this a true paradise.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Snap, Travel and Pop: Borneo - Sun, Sea and Cement.