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Earlier this year, two schools from Queensland joined forces and became #teamgajah and headed off together on a life-changing expedition to Borneo! The students from one of these schools wrote a blog, and they all had an input to share their experiences. What a blog – what an adventure! 

 

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During the month of April, a group from Earnshaw State College went on a cross-cultural expedition to the island of Borneo with Camps International.  Students were given the opportunity to take leadership and experience different cultures as they travelled.  It was a delight to accompany the students and to watch them grow into future leaders. – Miss Wallace

Tinangol
Sabah, Malaysia offered many diverse cultures, wildlife and scenery, including Tinangol which was well-known as a bead-making village. Although we were surrounded by the beautiful rainforest, it often seemed as if we were exploring a farmyard, as many roosters and pigs. Once arriving at Camp Tinangol, we were introduced to the camp staff, including Eliz, Kirstey, Dexter and Abna. These four fun-loving and unique individuals truly made us feel joyful, welcomed and a part of their camp family. Over the next three days, Team Gajah plastered, concreted and hammered a building, which was to be used as a community centre for the locals once finished. Whilst wandering the village, everyone bonded with the local children, particularly on our last day in the village as the camp staff organised an afternoon of games such as red rover, sack racing and relay racing. It was this same day that we explored another local village that was famous for designing, creating and producing gongs. Although all these activities were entertaining, it was obvious that the badminton court was favoured greatly by the campers, as every spare minute was spent competing against one another, creating an extremely competitive, yet fun environment. Thank you, Camp Tinangol, Team Gajah will greatly miss your culture, wildlife and scenery, but most importantly – your family. – Izzie Green

Earnshaw - Tinangol

Bongkud
At Bongkud we had two main project sites. Site one was doing concreting, bricklaying and plastering at the village junior school. Site two was painting the floors with paint at the village kindergarten located halfway up Bongkud hill which was opened by Camps in December 2018. Bongkud Camp was very good as the food was top quality made by the amazing “Mama Kitchen”.  The awesome camp manager, Eve, was always ready to help and to have a good old chat.  We enjoyed spending our time off relaxing in the gazebo which overlooked a creek. The team had the rewarding opportunity to planning for and teaching an English lesson to some local children in Bongkud village using games and stories.  Overall, all the camps were great. I am planning to go back to Borneo in the future, after Uni to do some volunteering. Thank you for giving me this unique opportunity! – Luke Greathead

 

Earnshaw - Bongkud 3

Jungle Trek
The trek through the Bornean jungle will be a lifelong memory. I can’t stop thinking about everything it has taught me about myself and others. The jungle trek was a mix of terrain, uphill, downhill, crossing rivers and walking through grass plains in the blazing hot sun of Sabah. The midday stop to eat sandwiches with tuna or jam was enough fuel to keep us going for the rest of the day’s trek. Dinner of meat and rice was always cooked on a fire, made from scratch.  No matches needed!! We had to tie our own hammocks to trees to sleep in, surprisingly comfortable! The guides were informative, experienced and best of all, FUN.  I loved hearing about how their machetes were all individually custom made and were sharpened from the flattened stones they could find in the riverbed. Overall trekking in the primary jungle of Sabah was truly an amazing experience. – Oliver Webb

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Camp Batu Puteh, Sepilok and ANZAC day
Batu Puteh was awesome and we had the best commute to project work every day – a boat! Although the project work wasn’t as physically demanding as making concrete, planting trees gave us a sense of satisfaction. The time here flew by and we were starting our journey home. We spent a day with orangutans and sun-bears, then a day remembering the fallen ANZAC’s at the site where many Australian soldiers began the gruelling death marches. The bus trip back to the capital, Kota Kinabalu was a good time for rest. Once we arrived we spent the day in the markets and shopping centre. – Dominic Lyons

Earnshaw - River 2

Overall Reflections
On our recent expedition to Borneo, we were given roles such as project coordinators, timekeeper and a safety officer. These roles included delegating jobs and keeping everyone safe. As a group, we were able to come together and complete our goals – even doubling them!  Culturally it was eye-opening as it was a basic and simple lifestyle with no fuss.  It made us appreciate simple things such as electricity, fresh and cold water and simply just going to the fridge for food. I would recommend this experience to anyone who is thinking about it. We have made lifelong friends who we have shared once in a lifetime memories with. – Jordan Ngatoko
Earnshaw - Bongkud 2

Thank you #teamgajah for sharing your experiences with us. Through working together as a team and having a willingness to learn and experience new things, you have accomplished so much!