Help Communities in Borneo Protect their Heritage

by Global Diversity Foundation
Aug 26, 2014

Connecting with Japanese visitors through shared activities and crafts in Ulu Papar

Arriving in Buayan by 4WD
Arriving in Buayan by 4WD

The strong living biocultural heritage of Ulu Papar, and the welcoming and self-reflective character of the communities continues to build and strengthen connections, so that visitors tend to keep returning. Early last month, Shinobu from Gakushuin University once again headed into the depths of the Crocker Range, joined by local counterparts, including representatives from the local university, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and from Arkitrek, the social enterprise fundamental in the design and construction of the community-action centre in Buayan. Raymond, who hails from Buayan, acted as community liaison and guide during the visit.

The purpose? To finalise plans for the DISSOLVA 2014 Borneo Project, a Gakushuin International Culture and Community Exchange Programme that brought 16 Japanese students to Sabah from 7th – 24th August 2014. Why are we excited about this? As with their two earlier visits, this year’s schedule included a good mix of activities. The Japanese students trekked deep into the dense tropical rainforest of Borneo to live with, learn about, and try to integrate with local Dusun communities in two villages in the Crocker Range. There, they assisted with the completion of the Bio-cultural Heritage Centre in Buayan, a hub for future outreach, self-advocacy and learning activities.

It is interesting to learn of similarities between cultures in two countries set more than three thousand miles apart. As Shinobu noted, forwarding photos from her July trip to Buayan, “Flat baskets made of bamboo are also common in Japan”. She added then that her student group hoped to make these baskets while in Kalangaan Village, and use them in their planned daily activities. “They also planned to use these baskets for the dance they prepared to show before their departure from Kota Kinabalu,” she added.

We thank Shinobu for sharing her story, and for Gakushuin University’s ongoing interaction with and support for the Ulu Papar community. 

Additional note: 

VOTE NOW! The photo of a Dusun child from Bundu Tuhan, taken by GDF photographer, Inanc Tekguc, made it through to GlobalGiving's Photo Contest this year! This opens up a new way you can support this project; the project with the photo that receives the most votes by noon EDT on August 29 will be awarded a $1,000 bonus. Vote now (it takes less than 1 minute)! Click here, enter your e-mail address, and verify your vote! If you’d like to learn about the story behind this phoo, click here. Thank you!

Photo descriptions

Shinobu, second from right, with the others on the trip in front of the 4WD that ferried them to Buayan. The group took an 8-hour trek on the way out. 

With the main structure and internal walls of the Bio-cultural Heritage Centre put in place last year, this year’s aim set out was to add finishing touches, construct a toilet and introduce the design of a septic tank/phytoremediation system.

The community centre in Buayan
The community centre in Buayan
Woven baskets in Buayan
Woven baskets in Buayan
A Dusun child from Bundu Tuhan
A Dusun child from Bundu Tuhan

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Organization Information

Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Susannah McCandless
GDF International Program Director
Bristol, Vermont United States
$9,775 raised of $10,000 goal
135 donations
$225 to go
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