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Text by Ooi Xun Heng
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh, Jude Ailton George, Pradeep Aggi Gunasegaran
I had been to some conservation centres in Malaysia before, and I believe besides the people who save lives, the staff who work for nature are also heroes. Well, after being a volunteer for the BSBCC program, I did not doubt it even once. People's lives are slowly getting away from physical activities, more to virtual events ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of helping the community to conserve wildlife virtually, I decided to take a trip to BSBCC in Sandakan. The border of Malaysia has finally and officially reopened on the 1st of April in 2022. Well, it wasn't an April Fool joke, as I took this opportunity to travel to Sabah, Sandakan. Everything in my life changed all of a sudden, the hustle and bustle of the city turned into a peaceful and undisturbed nature, electronic gadgets change into brooms and basins, virtual events now back into physical activities just like pre-covid.
In these two weeks of volunteering programs, I did attempt to give up in the middle of the program. I did face lots of difficulties, exhausted activities were carried out, the sweat that made my clothes all wet, muddy road in the midway of feeding activities and tons of mosquitoes which turned my arms itchy and uncomfortable. As a city boy, trying to adapt to staying beside the forest isn't an easy task. But luckily, I met staff and interns who shared their experiences, told me interesting stories, and extended their helping hands towards me. Staff and Dr. Wong treated me like a family member in BSBCC. The unsafeness and insecure feeling is thrown far far away. After a few days of the volunteering program, I started to enjoy it.
Whenever I feel exhausted, I think of the bears when they had a clean space to stay everyday. When I feel tired, I feel the freshness brought by nature. Friendly staff and Dr Wong helped me with whatever problems I faced. They taught me lots of bonus knowledge, life hacks, and many more about Sandakan and nature. Well, as a volunteer, I can't fully feel the tiredness of all the staff who take full responsibility and care for the wildlife. The only thing that I can feel is they are one of the heroes to maintain the ecosystem of mother Earth.
I am an 18y/o city boy who came all the way from Penang to Sandakan. I am very glad that BSBCC gave me this one-in-a-life-time opportunity to become a volunteer in BSBCC. I truly appreciate all the help given by the staff and the knowledge taught by them.