Past Pres. Irene Corpuz talked to Tawa Rotary in April 2015 on the 10,984 Books for Borneo Rotary project – a significant effort that was initiated in 2013 and involved collecting children’s books, sorting, labelling and then shipping the books to Borneo in early 2015.
Malaysia is a country so culturally and politically different to NZ, that it is difficult for us here in Godzone to comprehend just how a government could totally ignore the health and education requirements of such a sizable minority of its citizens. Indeed, the greatest barrier faced is that the people we are trying to help are not recognised as citizens at all, even though they have been born in Malaysia. So, the political ramifications of this project dissuaded us from enlisting the help of Sandakan’s own Rotary clubs.
We were fortunate to have the assistance of Irene’s sister, Lala, who lives and works in Sandakan as a Forestry and Eco Tourism advisor, and who was able to be our “contact on the ground”.
The project became known as the “Books for Borneo” project, and because we had to be so specific with cataloguing every single book to comply with Malaysian Custom’s requirements, it ultimately was called the 10,984 Books for Borneo project. Under Richard Hutchinson’s direction, 3 pallet loads of books were catalogued, weighing in at some 1.4 tonnes!
Irene had met Kak Tahlal who said: “Uneducated children grow up to be criminals who beget children who will also grow up uneducated. We must educate our children if we are to eliminate juvenile delinquency”. Reading books are essential to learning English. Irene conveyed this incredible story that has all the elements of Rotary making a real difference in this journey to serve humanitarian needs.
A copy of Irene's presentation is available at: Books_for_Borneo_Apr2015with_notesPDF [size 5.2MB]
A Facebook page was created for the Borneo Book project at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Borneo-Book-Project/883514218359656