TEAM EFFORT: Coca Cola funds Raleigh International volunteers in setting up gravity-feed system for 2 villages
PITAS: IT used to be rainwater or murky lake water for the residents of Kampung Pantai and Kampung Lihing, located about 33km from here.
However, beginning this month, the villagers are able to enjoy clean water, thanks to Coca-Cola Malaysia and British-based Raleigh International.
For the past two months, two groups of 13 Raleigh volunteers, all below 25, took turns to develop a gravity-feed system linking four dams to the villages.
These two villages are among the rural community that have benefited under the "Clean Water for Communities" project, a joint effort by the beverage company and the sustainable development charity body.
To date, more than 13,000 people in 25 villages throughout Sabah's interior have been supplied with clean water since the project was initiated in 2006.
Met during the launch of the project at Kampung Lihing on Monday, Kampung Lihing/Kampung Pantai Village Development and Security Committee chairman Joseph Lumandan said the basic amenity had tremendously improved their quality of life as getting clean water was a daily chore in the past.
"We are no longer at the mercy of Mother Nature.
"Previously, we had to wait for the Water Department to supply us clean water when there was no rain or the lakes' water levels dropped."
Coca-Cola Malaysia public affairs and communications director Mohamed Kadri Mohamed Taib said they would continue to make a positive difference to needy communities in Sabah as the Cola-Cola Foundation had awarded a RM121,600 grant to Raleigh International for another two years (2012 to 2013).
With this new funding, a total of RM493,000 had been invested in the project, he added.
He said another project at Kampung Imusan in the Tongod sub-district, with a population of about 270 people, would be completed soon.
"We expect the system to be running by next month.
"We have yet to confirm the locations, but another two projects are also in the pipeline for the second half of this year."
Interestingly, the project not only brought transformation to the villagers, but also to the volunteers.
Daniel Openshaw, 23, who manages a restaurant in England, said he might consider changing his career after his stint at the Rungus villages.
"I've participated in a similar water project at the Danum Valley before. But being here for a few weeks has made me re-think my purpose in life... I would like to do more community work."