The West Bornean Orangutan Caring Scholarship ‘Balek Kampong’ Project

By Petrus Kanisius, Communications Officer

Each year, GPOCP hosts the WBOCS (West Bornean Orangutan Caring Scholarship) Balek Kampong (or, ‘back to the village’) Project, in which WBOCS participants carry out a series of activities throughout the Ketapang and Kayong Utara regencies. This year, events were held in Sandai and Sungai Laur districts, as well as Pasir Mayang Beach.

In Ketapang, on January 20th, WBOCS recipients held a film screening and discussion about the documentary “Our Mothers’ Land” which tells the story of Indonesian women resisting companies that seek control over their natural resources. This discussion was moderated by WBOCS students Muhammad Syainullah, Ilham Pratama, Mita Anggreini, Mega OG, Ari Marlina and Surianto. Also in attendance were members of our Ketapang-based youth volunteer group, RK-TAJAM. The money raised during this event was donated to victims of recent floods in South Kalimantan.

The audience at the screening and discussion of “Our Mothers’ Land” at a local cafe, Kekili Kopi.

Participants were also given copies of our Indonesian language newsletter, MIaS, at the end of the documentary.

Also in Ketapang, on January 24th, students participated in a training about creative environmental campaigns on social media. Special guest speaker, Nurdiati, who is the co-founder of the West Kalimantan-based Pongo Ranger Community, emphasized the importance of sharing information. Social media now gives young people the power to spread awareness and voice change, and participants of this workshop gained practical skills to do this on their own.

In Kayong Utara, WBOCS Balek Kampong hosted a series of activities, nicknamed SHALAM (Sharing di Alam, or, Sharing in Nature) at Pasir Mayang Beach. Participants learned about the WBOCS program, and took part in a lesson on local flora and fauna. They also installed a series of informational signposts on the beach, with messages like “The beach is not a trash can”, “If we protect the forest, the forest protects us” and “Preserve the forest for the future”. These activities were led by WBOCS recipients Rafikah, Gilang Pratama, Sonia Utami, Fitri Melyana, Rizal and Ahmad Albab.

In Sandai District, lectures were held at SMPN 3 Sandai Junior High School. A total of 35 students, from grades 7-9, learned about forests and conservation. After the lecture, the WBOCS Balek Kampong team distributed our Indonesian language newsletter, MIaS. This event was run by Gusti Irawan, Reni Riasari, Winda Lasari and Fransiska Suhaimi.  

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Junior high school students in Sandai attended lectures about forests and conservation.

Lastly, in Sungai Laur Subdistrict, students went camping and created signs about proper waste management. Participants then had discussions about nature and the environment. Students came from throughout the community, and many of them are also involved in the Sungai Laur Nature Lovers Community (Kopal), Sandai Nature Lovers (Kompas), Sungai Laur Backpackers, and the Bebeker Butak Tulik (BBT) club. These events were run by Siti Nurbaiti, Peri Auri, Monica and WBOCS alumnus, Junardi.

Participants from the Sungai Laur camping expedition pose with handmade signs about proper waste management.

These events are very special to WBOCS students and important to the longevity of the WBOCS program. Students find great joy in giving back to the communities from which they come, spreading both information about the program, as well as knowledge about the environment and conservation efforts. Younger student participants look up to these university students, and often find themselves passionate about similar issues and interested in one day applying to the scholarship program. We look forward to holding more events in the future!