First off I want to say; Merapoh is an incredibly beautiful place, filled with wonderful people and even if you are not considering working there, you should visit none the less!
I originally signed up to stay at the Merapoh Community & Conservation project for 3 months; I soon found that that was not long enough. After another 3 months, I have decided that yet again I am not ready to leave, so will be returning in February, when the project reopens after the monsoon dies down.
Working with the Batek is an incredible experience, their willingness to share their vast knowledge of the forest and its inhabitants is, at times, humbling. Communication with them can at times be challenging for non-Malay speakers, as they do not speak English, so I would advise doing some homework and learning some basic Malay before joining the project, if possible, to allow you to hit the ground running. That said, there are Malay speakers at the project already, so there will always be someone to help out if you can’t understand.
My six months working with Fuse-Ecoteer have allowed me to do some pretty incredible things; trekking, camping, caving just within Merapoh for a start. I have helped organise trips for groups of school children and university students, I have taken part in an exhibition in KL’s Eco Film Fest, all the time with accommodation and transport being provided. I have also been able to visit our other projects in Ipoh; where I was able to do white water rafting and I was given a chance to stay on the Perhentian Islands; where I spent days submerged in the crystal clear waters surrounded by fish of all shapes and sizes.
Dan and Pavin are both great guys who share a genuine desire to help people and to facilitate others to come and help too. Communication can sometimes be a bit lacking, but that is forgivable knowing how busy they both are. I’d also like to highlight Merapoh’s team leader Azee, who has done a fantastic job over the last six months, and I look forward to working with her again next year.
So to close, I’d like to thank everyone in the Fuse-Ecoteer family that has made the last 6 months so enjoyable, can’t wait to get the team back together and get started again in February!