5th November 2016
Reach is pleased to announce that there will be a screening of the award winning documentary ” The Disappearing Hills ” on the 7th of November 2016 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Bertam Valley Chinese Primary School (SJKC Bertam Valley). All are invited.The Disappearing Hills is a documentary of Cameron Highlands with emphasis on the aftermath of the Bertam Valley floods and the human stories behind it. It is done by Yeo Kai Wen ,a talented graduate from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Yeo spent around 3 months in Cameron Highlands and has given as accurate and impartial account as he could. Below is his synopsis…
Stern-faced soldiers wielding M-16 rifles stood guard as excavators mowed down rows of chrysanthemums, leaving behind broken stalks and fallen petals. At a distance, farmers stood by helplessly as they watched years of their hard work destroyed under government orders. In recent years the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia has been pressured by development in that area. While this has created a secure and comfortable lifestyle for many farmers, it has also resulted in large swathes of forests being cleared to make way for farm expansion. As a result, flooding has become an annual affair claiming property and lives while contaminating rivers with human waste, plastics and dangerous levels of pesticides. The ‘Disappearing Hills’ documents the human stories behind these environmental issues.
by Ng Sue Sze
The tour to the Mossy forest and the reforestation program was participated by 24 standard 6 students and two teachers from SJK (C) Bertam Valley, 3 volunteers, which included me and our facilitator from REACH, Melody. It was a rainy morning. Before we departed, we were given questionnaires to test our understanding of the importance of the Mossy forest.
The journey up to the watchtower, which is the highest point of Gunung Brinchang forest was quite winding. Luckily our tour guide drove steadily and we reached our destination safely. When we reached the watchtower, the scenery around us was misty due to the rain. Despite being misty, windy and chilly, we managed to clamber up the watchtower safely with the students and was able to snap a few decent pictures of the misty view. However, we had to take extra precaution because the staircase up to the tower was very steep.
Our next point was jungle trekking at the primary forest of the Mossy forest. Before we entered the forest, our tour guide, Uncle Francis and Melody did a good job by explaining the importance of the Mossy forest. The Mossy forest is named thus because the tree trunks and branches in the forest are covered with moss. Since the weather in Cameron is humid and damp, the moss would capture/absorb the moisture in the air which accumulated becomes one of the main sources of water to the locals. It was quite interesting to know that, the Mossy forest is the oldest mossy forest in the world and it even existed during the time of the dinosaurs. Although it was still drizzling, all the students were able to complete the boardwalk safely. A few scenes in the forest gave us the feeling of being on the set of “The Lord of the Rings” because of the mist. It was a beautiful trail.
by Oon Yan Yan
Everything began when Melody happily volunteered both Sue Sze and I for Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (“REACH”) programmes during our trip to Cameron Highlands. She believed that we will learn much from the programs and understand why she is fighting so hard for Cameron Highlands. She explained repeatedly to us the after effects of deforestation, pollution of the rivers and the effort that REACH had been doing over the years. To be honest, it was not that easy to absorb all of the information as it sounded quite foreign to us.
On Wednesday morning (21 September 2016), we participated in Community Stream Investigation (“CSI”) with the students and teachers from Kea Farm Primary School. Dr Liau gathered the teachers and the volunteers for a brief introduction of CSI. He also explained the tests, i.e. physical, biological and chemical tests in detail which would help us understand what we were going to do later at the rivers. I was grateful that Melody shared her experience previously which made everything clearer after Dr Liau’s explanation.
It is always rewarding to conduct environmental programmes for our young school children.It is such a joy to watch kids laugh and smile, when we engage them in our programmes.On the 5th of October 2016, we conducted an English based Environmental Programme EEP focussing on recycling, for SJKC Tanah Rata, a small Chinese language primary school in Tanah Rata. This school is tucked in between other bigger schools and students numbered around 80. On this day, the school children were so lively that sounds of their laughter could be heard in the neighbouring schools. Oops!
Once again trilingual Miss Melody Woon, conducted the programme. Melody is a lawyer by training but she is equally gifted in teaching, patiently coaxing answers from shy students and getting everyone to participate. She was assisted by Puan Mazlina, our committee member and her sister Cik Salwa and Miss Saras.
Bugs tell tales. Our community stream investigation CSI activity is based on this. We use the presence of bugs ( in this case macroinvertebrates) to gauge the quality of the waters in our streams and rivers. The beauty of this water testing method is , it is free and in “real time”. CSI is sponsored by CIMB, Prince Tunku Imran and Mr Paul Chuah and is another popular environmental based activtiy here. This activity would not be possible without our vice president Dr Liau Tai Leong and his volunteers especially Miss Melody Woon.
On the 4th of October , they conducted a CSI programme for 32 students and teachers from Convent Primary School in Tanah Rata ( SK Convent) .
Dr Liau first briefed the students on the physical and biological indicators of water quality. The highlight of this programme is to search for the bugs in the streams and rivers .
Pictures of the bugs are given to aid identification. Different bugs tell different tales. Macroinvertebrates such as dragonfly larvae and water pennies are only found in very clean water while leeches and mosquito larvae are found in dirty water.
22nd September 2016 – Today was a day of fun, out in the sun for 15 students and teachers from Bertam Valley Chinese Primary School. This is the time of the year when our programmes for local school children take off. Examinations seem miles away and the mountains beckon. As always it was great to take these youngsters for a visit to our highlands and see through their eyes the beauty of our forests. Everything is interesting to them and their energy abounds. There are more groups to come and it is indeed a pleasure to impart to them the importance of forest conservation.