VOLVO Trucks, one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers, recently organised a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme with the Kelabit community of Bario in Sarawak via the Volvo Group Seasonal Gift programme.
The programme is part of the group’s CSR efforts, which is carried out globally to help support local country social causes. The goal is to create prosperity for the communities where Volvo Trucks operates.
Malaysia is one of the countries that was selected, with Bario chosen as the recipient of the Volvo Trucks funded RM500,000 Seasonal Gift contribution to improve the lives of the Kelabit community.
It focuses on two key efforts, one of which includes the construction of a fire-fighting system with a water tank and eight hose reels for the Bario Asal Lembaa longhouse settlement — the oldest longhouse in the area dating back to 1958.
The fire-fighting system is intended to safeguard lives and the longhouse, which is the pride of the community, as well as a tourism attraction and a living historical monument.
The second effort entails the construction of five eco-shelters, where all materials were carried on the back of porters and shelters built by hands, along the 25km distance Bario ancestral trail. The estimated distance between each shelter in the ancestral trail is 5km apart.
The eco-shelters are also equipped with working toilets via a sustainable water harvesting system and a safe resting area. It will take about five to six days of trekking to reach the last eco-shelter.
It will help to make the trekking journey through thick jungle terrain more manageable for locals and hikers, as well as encourage more tourists into the area, which will help to generate more income for the locals.
The Bario project was commenced in mid-2017 and completed in December last year. An official handover event to mark the completion of both the fire-fighting system and five eco-shelters was held recently on the grounds of Bario Asal Lembaa longhouse settlement.
The event was attended and launched by the Ambassador of Sweden to Malaysia Dag Juhlin-Dannfelt, Volvo Malaysia managing director Mats Nilsson, Penghulu Robertson Bala, and headman of Bario Asal Lembaa longhouse Laju Balang @ Aren Lemulun.
“This initiative for (the) Bario (community) is one of 14 projects being carried out in different countries globally under our (Volvo) Seasonal Gift programme which was first announced in December 2016. In addition, Malaysia is one out of only two countries in Asia that was chosen and it is indeed a privilege for us to put our funds to good use,” said Nilsson.
Laju said, “We are grateful for the work Volvo Trucks has put in for these two projects — the fire-fighting system and the eco-shelters. There are six to seven longhouses fires every year in Sarawak. The trauma of losing such a place of history and heritage is devastating.
“It is a real fear for us should it happen here. Therefore, the decision of Volvo Trucks Malaysia to partner with us, in building this fire-fighting system has given us the tools to overcome the worst. It eases our worries and empowers our people.
“We have undertaken this project with hopes to not only enhance safety, but to also create more tourism-related jobs for the community by providing the eco-shelters, thus providing an income source which could reduce the out-migration of Kelabit youth. In the long-run, Volvo Trucks hopes to help sustain the community and its culture.”
Through the three key pillars of Volvo Group’s corporate social responsibility approach, the company aimed to create value for its customers, employees, shareholders and society and to be able to contribute to long-term sustainable development. The majority of Volvo Trucks’ social commitments take place at the local level — where the company and its employees can make a big difference.
This initiative for Bario received the full support and partnership from Sarawak Tourism and Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) with special thanks going to CM Global Sdn Bhd, Dai Lieng Machinery Sdn Bhd, AirAsia Bhd, MAS Wings Sdn Bhd, Perk Events, CJ Bug Production and LNT Advertising Associates.