Name: Theresa Chong Pei Qi
Volunteer from: Singapore
I t was my first time going overseas for such a long period of time, and also my first time contributing to an overseas voluntary project. This project to help Mangkang relieve the effects of coastal erosion and promote effective waste management had been a wild ride especially for me. The 18 days allowed me to grow a lot as a person and also learn many new life lessons through my experience.
Through the 18 days, I witnessed the grave aftereffects of coastal erosion and poor waste management reflected in the village. I was really glad that I was able to contribute to a better future for Mangkang through the planting of 10 thousand mangrove seedlings. These seedlings would hopefully help to bring income to the villagers and make seafood farming possible again in Mangkang.
Our first day of arrival was welcomed by a flood where our vehicle could not enter the village and rubbish could be seen floating on the waters, and lying everywhere on the ground after the waters subsided. There were many villagers whose houses were not elevated and were badly affected by the flood, including the houses of our camp leaders. There is a lack of knowledge amongst many villagers, pertaining to rubbish clogging up their river and hence resulted in floods when rain comes, due to inefficient water flow. Moreover, the villagers have been living in the village for so long and their most convenient way of waste disposal is into the river, that they may have come to accept the flooding as a part of their everyday life. We, as volunteers, do not belong to the village and hence, the inefficient waste management and the flooding may seem to be larger problems to us, compared to the villagers.
We have the responsibility to inform the villagers of the detrimental impacts from their way of waste management and empower the locals to take initiative and save their homes. It was comforting that we managed to help one of our camp leaders feel for his home and be willing to make a change with his small yet significant efforts. Empowerment is a tedious and long process, however, small changes lead to big differences and I really want to go back to Mangkang again and contribute in whichever small ways I can.
Written by Theresa Chong Pei Qi
‘Empowerment is a tedious and long process, however, small changes lead to big differences and I really want to go back to Mangkang again and contribute in whichever small ways I can.’
Theresa Chong Pei Qi