Powering up a rural Ranau village

Time to shine: Ong (left) with micro hydro light project volunteers receiving the RM30,000 mock cheque from Star Foundation.

KOTA KINABALU: For decades, generations of villagers in Sabah’s Ranau district in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu have depended on candles, moonlight and sometimes oil lamps for light.

However, they will soon see “light”, thanks to Star Foundation’s funding and efforts by a non-governmental organisation – Lightup Borneo – to bring a micro hydro light project to these 40 families in Kg Kie Yit.

Lightup Borneo coordinator Ong Boon Keong said they were first approached by some villagers from Kg Kie Yit sometime this year, asking for help to get electricity.

Ong decided to do something after hearing about their plight, which included the children finding it difficult to study, when the sun goes down.

After bringing a group of people to the village to assess the situation, he found the place suitable for a micro hydro project as it was next to a good sized river.

Ong said he gathered his group of NGO members and volunteers, including engineers, technicians and lecturers to get the project started.

After getting technical matters sorted, they then addressed the issue of funding.

“So we got in touch with Star Foundation, and managed to secure the RM30,000 needed to install the machine, ” he said.

Ong said once completed, the micro hydro light project is expected to generate about 10kW of electricity for 40 houses in the village.

He said some 20 to 30 volunteers, including those from overseas, as well as the villagers themselves, will be part of the four to five-day installation project.

“We will also teach the villagers how to maintain the machine and how to do wiring for their houses, among others, ” he said.

Ong said this is to ensure that the villagers will be able to maintain the system in future without external help, which is possible as the system is relatively simple and inexpensive.

“That is why we are sure that the villagers will be able to sustain the electricity supply, ” he said.

Once the installation is complete, Malaysian band, Estranged, will perform for the villagers on Dec 15 as part of the celebration, while other local artistes will hold other events to raise funds for the village.

Star Foundation is the charitable arm of the Star Media Group which is aimed at delivering meaningful initiatives with lasting outcomes to a diverse group of beneficiaries.

For more information, visit starfoundation.com.my.

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