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KOTA KINABALU – Forty-four university and college students from around Kota Kinabalu lived up the Social Teachings of the Church at the Kinabalu Camp (KC2016) held on 1-10 July 2016. The camp which was organised by the Archdiocesan Campus and Youth Ministry took place at the Catholic Students Group (CSG) Centre here as its base camp and four other outstation places as exposure sites.
Kinabalu Camp is a formation platform for campus leaders to be more aware of the Catholic Church teachings on social issues. Taking from the Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si’, Mi’ Signore” or “Praise Be To You, My Lord”, KC2016 specifically focused on ecology issues such as the effect of pollution and climate change on its global community, Sabah inclusive; and solidarity awareness that calls us to be ‘co-caretakers of the earth’.
The theme ‘Called, Chosen and Sent’ was appropriately selected to reflect this, which in a way, illustrated the response the youth would hopefully offer to the Church.
The camp was divided into three phases for effective input delivery.
1st Phase – ‘Called’
This first phase was held for four days, July 1-4 at the CSG Centre. Among the talks delivered by invited speakers were Who am I?, Catholic Social Teaching, What is Happening to Our Common Home?, The Human Roots of Ecological Crisis and The Gospel of Creation. Most of these talks centred on the Pope’s Laudato Si’ encyclical on stewardship of creation.
Zizi from UniTAR campus said the talks were eye- openers for him to be aware of his own responsibility and seeing himself taking care of God’s creation. Listening to The Human Roots of Ecological Crisis, he realised now that technology can cause humans to be less cautious and drive them to act inappropriately without thinking of the consequences.
To complete their preparation for the second phase, the participants were given exposure on how to know and fathom the realities of the social condition of the local communities in Sabah through a session on Social Analysis using a pastoral approach by Professor Dr Felix Tongkul.
2nd Phase – ‘Chosen’
Exposure trips were held for three days from July 5-7 at four different sites namely; solid waste disposal site at Kg Lapasan (Telipok), Babagon dam in Kg Tampasak (Penampang), Gamut Programme (Green Waste Compost) in Kg Kuai Kandazon (Penampang), and the aggressively objected proposed Kaiduan dam site in Kg Timpayasa (Penampang).
Youth were exposed to first-hand experience of living with the communities in these sensitive areas. Those who were at Kg Lapasan said not only the trip has educated them about environmental issues but also humanity issues. They saw first-hand and interviewed the people who scavenge for food around the landfill and who often find food that are still in good condition but has passed the expiry date. More often they will still collect these food, disregarding the date.
Meanwhile in Kg Tampasak, the youth saw how the Babagon dam has affected its environmental surrounding and the people. Many said the mega project has not provided fair compensation in many ways to the directly-impacted locals.
Gamut is a green waste composting programme under CLEAR (Community-Led Environmental Awareness for our River). It was initiated in 2014 to curb river pollution and un-organised rubbish handling. Youth had the opportunity to learn organic fertilisers composting using green wastage obtained from the tamu or supermarkets in Penampang.
The final exposure site was the proposed Kaiduan dam which took them three hours on foot to get to the destination. They heard the cries of the locals and realised the importance of unity amongst them in trying times like these. As their sign of support, this group of youth painted self-made banners echoing the voice of the communities ‘Save Ulu Papar, ‘Stop Kaiduan Dam’ and many more.
3rd Phase – ‘Sent’
This phase encouraged interaction among the participants when each exposure groups presented their social analysis findings and action plans. Among the action plans drafted out were; 1) produce a video carrying message of awareness on environmental issues arising from construction of the two dams, 2) documenting facts based on interviews with the locals as a way of recording impacts of the dams ecologically and socially, 3) ‘One Hour Programme’ campaign to propose recycle efforts, clean-up of the waste disposal site and scaled tree planting, 4) GAMUT programme proposes personal composting activity and provide reports to NGO, CLEAR. – Olga Juli & Shelin Morris/CS