Experiencing life in the Iban longhouse is a very unforgettable and exciting experience for many as the community shows that they can still live a full life and still maintain the harmony.
According to the lecturer of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Perak, Assoc Prof Dr Zahiraniza Mustaffa, the opportunity to experience life in a longhouse first-hand is an experience she will never forget.
“The people here are still living in harmony while maintaining their traditions — it is very unique because nowadays, most families today care only about their own small circle instead of being community-centred.
“From what I can see, the longhouse residents are always working closely together in their daily activities,” she told reporters during her visit to Rumah Panjang Jaraw Sumuk in Sungai Plan in Bintulu, recently.
The visit was one of the activities organised by Serba Dinamik Holdings Berhad in conjunction with its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme called ‘Program Kelestarian Alam Sekitar 2019’ (Environment Preservation [EP] 2019) A total of 25 students from UTP Perak and 25 selected families from Kampung Jepak were involved in the event which was held from August 25 to 28.
Meanwhile, one of the students, Nadiah Najihah Abdul Rahim, 21, said she was very lucky to have the chance to visit the longhouse. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to see and experience the lives of the people here more closely. It has been a very exciting and valuable experience,” she said happily.
The thrill of stepping into the longhouse for the first time was also shared by her course mate Chan Wei Han, 23. The Ipoh-born lad told many the new experiences he has gained through participating in the programme.
“When I first arrived at the longhouse, I was shocked, because what I knew about the longhouse was totally different from what I had expected.
“Previously I only knew about the Iban community through textbooks and television.
“Through this event, I also learned the true beauty of living in the longhouse,” Chan added.
During the four-day programme, participants also had the opportunity to visit the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), Samalaju Industrial Park and Bintulu Port Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Organised in collaboration with the BDA, the students as well as the Kampung Jepak villagers were also introduced to Bokashi composting, a cost-effective and easy way to produce fertilisers naturally.
It is one of the many efforts of Serba Dinamik Holdings Berhad to help maintain environmental sustainability which is also one of the company’s policies.
This composting programme also serves more than just producing organic fertilisers — the end-product can also be processed to become natural insect repellents and cleaning agents for toilets, drains and sinks.
Earlier, Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip in his opening speech during the event said that with the introduction of this method (Bokashi composting), villagers can now produce their own compost without having to buy it in stores.
“Moreover, this method can enhance the management and handling of organic and food-based waste in this area. “It would also help reduce the cost of waste disposal and further extend the lifespan of any dumping site,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Serba Dinamik Holdings Berhad chairman Abdul Kadier Sahib said the programme was the first step in raising awareness among the villagers about the importance of the environment to the community.
“All this time, we have only instilled in-house awareness among our staff. As we recognise the importance of caring for the environment, we try to extend it to the people of Kampung Jepak.
“In fact,the process of taking care of the environment requires the cooperation of all parties for a more effective impact,” he pointed out, hoping that such a programme could be promoted elsewhere.
The company’s deputy president Datuk Pangeran Daud Pangeran Putera is optimistic that Program Kelestarian Alam Sekitar 2019 will change the mindset of the local community by encouraging more responsible and systematic disposal of organic waste.
He also assured that the effort would continue in the future to protect the environment for the benefit of the younger generation. For BDA general manager Rodziah Morshidi, the event could educate the local community on the importance of solid waste management.
“This is a long-term venture and it’s not an easy task — the Taiwan government had been doing this for 20 years. So, as a start, Serba Dinamik is trying to introduce a natural way of making fertiliser and for the next step maybe recycling or reuse can be done,” Rodziah explained.