Project Orion X
Project Orion X is the tenth project in the series of annual project collaboration with host organisation, WWF Malaysia. Project Orion X was held from 16 – 30 Jun 19 in West Malaysia, Terengganu, and as usual, there was to parts to the project. First part of the project aims to acquire deeper understanding towards the conservation of endangered sea turtle species through activities such as beach patrolling, turtle nest excavation and releasing of hatched turtles. The second part of the project focuses on community development of Kampung Mangkuk, one of the most laid back villages in West Malaysia.
This is not the first time I am in touch with Project Orion, I first did my Project Orion at its ninth running in 2018. After Project Orion IX, I felt that what we did was actually very meaningful and it was very satisfactory for me as a person who seldom gets in contact with such community work. At the same time it opened up my eyes for the importance of marine life conservation and how little efforts by individual could change the effect of pollution and civilisation on endangered marine species. This got me very inspired to be in the Project again to be able to contribute to this little effort and also to share and bring more youths on board this conservation effort.
Learn & Decide
When Project Orion X was opened for registration, I quickly contacted the expedition leader of the past Project Orions, Si Jie, and told him that I am interested to be part of the organising team to help him run this year’s Project Orion X. Project Orion has been in the running for nine years, and this year, there is no difference to the beneficiaries of the project. The project targets to improve the living of villagers in Kampung Mangkuk, a village in the Setiu district of Terengganu, West Malaysia, through providing funds and community work such as home upgrading. At the same time, it also targets to provide knowledge of turtle conversation to the participants of Project Orion X. My role in the team was to co-lead Project Orion X’s participants to plan and execute their project in Kampung Mangkuk. I personally also feel that two weeks of conservation and community work is not big enough an effort to make a change, however, my purpose here would be to share my experiences and inspire youths of Project Orion X to be in touch with community work and marine conservation work. Hopefully, after the project, they would be inspired to contribute to such efforts and would share their experiences with others to inspire others, only then, more individuals will be able to contribute to the world, making it a better place for all. From this project, I also wish to learn how to organise such overseas project so that in future I could run one on my own and bring scouts out of the country to gain new experiences.
This year’s Project Orion X, the team decided to build a few front porches for the villagers of Kampung Mangkuk. Over at the project site, I shared with the team the purposes of these porches which were built to be an extended space for the homes of villages or it could be used as a business space for the villagers to run little businesses that encourages entrepreneurship among the villagers and could help them with sustainable income. On site, I also overlook the safety of the participants making sure that no one would get hurt in the midst of the construction work.
For turtle conservations, we linked up with staffs of WWF in Terengganu to conduct talks and beach patrolling for the participants of Project Orion X, that would help them to better understand the environmental situation over at Setiu district in Terengganu. Due to poor weather during the monsoon season, we were only able to bring the participants on beach patrolling for a limited occasions.
During the project, we also planned for a few cultural activities for the participants of Project Orion X for them to experience things that they might not have experienced before in Singapore. The activities include Wau making (traditional kites), banana chips making, keropok lekor making (signature delicacy of Terengganu), mangrove replanting and an open house to invite villagers for a meal as a celebration of Hari Raya as well as to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Project Orion.
Upon returning from the trip to Terengganu, I have shared my experiences to many of my colleagues as I often get the same questions from them, “hey Marcus, where have you been enjoying life for the last two weeks?”, “what were you doing there?” and “again?! Didn’t you just went there last year?”. These are some of the common questions that were posted by my colleagues, and such question always turn into good conversation topic for sharing of what I did for the trip like community work and turtle conservation works. One of the discussions that I remembered vividly was with my boss as he is also a wildlife enthusiast, I shared with him the work that we did for sea turtles conservation and he was very impressed with the team and project, hopefully that support of his would bring me another trip to Project Orion next year.