Follow us on our journey with Ganesh Muren as we travel deep into Sarawak to improve the lives of the people of Rumah Garie.
Daween Maan on Jan 04, 2017
Even as a writer, it isn’t uncommon to experience a situation where words become inadequate. After a 4-day journey with our Generation T lister, Ganesh Muren and two of my colleagues into the jungles of Sarawak, I came to the realisation that even volumes of books written on this young man's work and the lengths he goes to to do his job would be insufficient – sometimes, the eyes need to see for themselves.
One flight, three boat rides, and half a day later we arrived at Rumah Garie, a longhouse deep in rural Sarawak.
But this was no getaway vacation. Ganesh’s work required the lugging of tools and equipment brought along to provide these rural inhabitants the simple things we take for granted.
For the founder of Saora Industries and inventor of the water filtration systems ‘Waterlily’ and ‘Chlorinator’ these trips are regular as he passionately carries out his mission of providing the means to clean water. But this visit to Rumah Garie was his first – a diplomatic mission as much as a humanitarian one, as we brought along a solar panel to both, provide the longhouse clean electricity, as well as introduce them to the man with a smile on his face and an affable laugh.
Our trip from Kuala Lumpur to Rumah Garie required a flight into Sibu(1), a boat ride along the Rajang River to the town of Kapit(2); a second boat ride along along Batang Baleh to the mouth of a stream known as Nanga Kain (3); and a final boat ride up the shallow stream to Ulu Kain (4). (source: Google)
FIve hours after departing Sibu, our boat from the rivertown Kapit.
Our arrival at Nanga Kain, the mouth of the stream.
Transferring to our final 3-man boat, before our one hour ride up the stream to Rumah Garie.
Arrival at the foot of the hill where Rumah Garie sits.
Water filtration systems were provided by the government, but electricity is still obtained from diesel powered generators.
Ganesh Muren wasted little time with getting to work installing all the equipment needed to provide the people of the longhouse with clean and sustainable electricity.
Weaving is a major source of income for some inhabitants of the longhouse, with some of their products garnering four-figure profits per piece.
But with electricity hard to come by, headlamps and flashlights become their only means to continue working after sundown.
Ganesh's installation of solar panels and lights will eliminate that problem, over time.
But the things never in short supply - an open heart, a welcoming hand and a smile on their face. Despite only just meeting us, and for the most part, not even understanding us, the people of Rumah Garie treated us the way family would - a fair amount of care and teasing, but always looking out for us.
As we set off on our return to Kuala Lumpur, it was hard not to wonder if we would ever go back. For most of us, trips like this stay in that 'once-in-a-lifetime' box, but for Ganesh Muren, this would undoubtedly be just the first of many.
To learn more about Ganesh and his social initiatives with Saora Industries, pick up a copy of the January 2017 issue of Malaysia Tatler magazine, out at newsstands now, or click here to purchase a digital copy.
Photography: Shaffiq Farhan Special thanks: People of Rumah Garie