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Curtin Malaysia students and international volunteers brighten lives of Long Puak community

Miri – 7 September 2017 – The Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Student Branch and AIESEC Chapter members of Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), accompanied by international AIESEC volunteers from 10 countries, recently travelled over four hours overland to deliver 50 solar lamps to villagers at the remote settlement of Long Puak. 

The initiative was part of the ‘Light Up Miri’ community project carried out under the umbrella ‘Light of Borneo’ project spearheaded by the two student organisations. Present to distribute the solar lamps to the villagers was Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau.

The key objective of ‘Light of Borneo’ is to light up rural and suburban communities in Northern Sarawak that have yet to have electricity supply with solar power. It aims to reduce the reliance of villagers on generators, as well as create awareness of the importance of education and renewable energy among villagers.

Long Puak, with a population of about 150, is located on the Baram River about an hour’s drive from Long Lama, the nearest town. It takes about three hours to reach Long Lama by road from Miri.

Long Puak does not have an electricity scheme and the villagers rely on generators that are costly to operate and used only when necessary. The generators run on diesel that costs them approximately RM300 a month, which is a burden to the villagers and makes it impractical to leave the generators running for long periods. As a result, the villagers are unable to operate basic appliances such as refrigerators and electric fans in the daytime.

All the volunteers found spending six days and five nights in the village a priceless experience and real eye-opener. IEEE Curtin Malaysia Student Branch president Kong Sheng How said throughout their stay, the volunteers were able to experience first-hand the daily hardship of the villagers.

Head of Membership Team Loh Chang Sheng commented that while city dwellers take electricity for granted, it is a luxury for the villagers. Vice President Bong Chu Jun, meanwhile, found the villagers were friendly and accommodating, even to the extent of giving each volunteer a local Orang Ulu name to symbolise their acceptance into the community.

According to Project Director of AIESEC Curtin Malaysia Chapter Lam San San, the villagers left an equal impact on the volunteers and that the experience has motivated them to contribute more to the less privileged.

Meanwhile, Advisor to the IEEE Curtin Malaysia Student Branch Dr Garenth Lim King Hann opined that all youths should be encouraged to serve the less fortunate. It not only benefits the communities they serve but also builds character in the volunteers, allowing them to put things they learn in university or college into practice and develop their social and leadership skills.

The visit was made more memorable for the volunteers when they visited the villagers’ farms, went hunting and fishing with them, barbecued by the river and learned cultural dances from the villagers.

The IEEE Curtin Malaysia Student Branch was established in 2008 and currently has about 100 members. For more information on the student branch, e-mail ieee.curtinsarawak@gmail.com, visit ewh.ieee.org/sb/malaysia/curtinsarawak or visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CurtinSarawak.IEEE.

AIESEC is an international non-governmental, not-for-profit global youth leadership organisation that provides young people with leadership development, cross-cultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences. The AIESEC network comprises approximately 70,000 members that span across 127 countries and territories.

AIESEC in Malaysia, Curtin University was established in August 2011 and was the first AIESEC student chapter to be formed in East Malaysia. With the vision to empower youth of East Malaysia in the area of sustainable community development, it has been providing youth leadership opportunities for Miri youth through AIESEC programmes such as Global Volunteer (volunteering abroad), Global Entrepreneur and Global Talent (internship abroad).

For more information on Curtin Malaysia, visit its website (www.curtin.edu.my), its Facebook page (CurtinMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinmalaysia), Google+ page (Curtin Malaysia), Instagram (curtinmalaysia) or YouTube channel (Curtin Malaysia).


Villagers watching attentively as Kong demonstrates how to operate a solar lamp.


Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau distributing the lamps to villagers.


The volunteers and villagers performing a cultural dance.