‘Gift of Love’ for Batang Ai longhouse folk

The Batang Ai Community Library.

KUCHING:  Batang Ai longhouse folk   have been gifted with Business Events Sarawak’s (BESarawak) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project called ‘Gift of Love: Batang Ai Community Library’, built on the grounds of Nanga Ukom longhouse.

BESarawak, in a press statement, pledged to use its professional connections and resources to shape the development of the people, especially in rural areas.

The CSR is organised by BESarawak together with International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA), Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), the Librarians’ Association of Malaysia, Sarawak State Library and CPH Travel Agency.

The ‘Gift of Love’ project is the brainchild of ICCA; congress delegates and supporting organisations are encouraged to donate books and learning materials in order to leave a physical legacy behind.

The pilot project started with the data collection of how many children from the seven Batang Ai longhouses were still schooling.

This project is tied to the upcoming 59th ICCA Congress Asia Pacific Regional Hub to be held in Kuching from Nov 1–3, 2020.

“Business events are already the driving force behind Sarawak Economic Action Council’s advocacy for community development, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability,” said BESarawak’s Acting CEO, Amelia Roziman.

She added that it was one of the state’s seven key focus areas on rural transformation.  

“When we improve education, we can achieve another of the focus areas which is to re-engineer Sarawak’s economic growth through rural entrepreneurship,” said Amelia in the statement.

According to the statement, since education is at the forefront of the project, one element to this pilot project is to see how effective the library will be at encouraging children to remain in school.

A Nanga Ukom longhouse chief said most of the longhouse children in the area did not finish their secondary education, leading to a severe lack of graduates and employable youths.

“A library today can be a school tomorrow which is our future aspiration and legacy for this community library.

“We’re competing to collaborate with local education authorities to turn the library into a pre-school and a learning centre,” added Amelia.

“To further push the educational capacity, we are in the midst of collaborating with destination management companies to develop a unique CSR for tourists.

“This is specially designed to encourage tourists to get involved in teaching basics English to the longhouse folk or partake in a cultural exchange programmes,” she said.  

The library is almost ready, with the installation of solar panels to supply Nanga Ukom longhouse with sufficient electricity.

The opening ceremony will be held on   November 27, 2020 at Nanga Ukom longhouse.

It will be attended by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

BESarawak is setting a record to get 500 books for children aged 5-15 in nine days, starting from October 27 until November 6. Individuals, associations and corporate organisations are encouraged to drop book donations at BESarawak’s office, Level 3 at Plaza Aurora, Jalan McDougall, Kuching.

Further details on the drive can be found on BESarawak’s Facebook page @businesseventssarawak.