100 Days in the Jungle: Borneo Diary Part 3
After a day of rest, washing clothes, visiting the local school and communicating with the outside world, the EWs pack up again for a 2 day visit to the village of Tembak, about 3 hours drive from Sintang. This village is strongly opposed to palm oil and is very keen to find out more about sugar palm and to meet the EWs.
After driving through endless palm oil plantations and witnessing the destruction they are causing, we stop to talk to a local farmer who tells us how the palm oil companies have ruined his life and left him in hopeless despair. He shows us the remnants of the company headquarters that local youths, angry at the tactics used by the company, had burnt to the ground after which 39 of them were jailed for a long time.
In Tembak, we cross a narrow bridge on foot and arrive in the village to an enthusiastic and very warm traditional greeting by the entire village.
The village had prepared a welcome banner, welcoming the EWs as Economic Warriors, which delighted everyone, and which they conceded was exactly what they need to be.
Hundreds of people line the streets to greet us and shake hands and one of the elders soon has everyone dancing.
The chief calls a meeting to welcome us and to talk about sugar palm. Like all our meetings in Dayak country, it is a shoes off event. The children look on and the keeper of traditions Mr. Apui, requests a photo with me as we have matching wardrobe.
A very large group from the village take us on a forest walk, where Steve discovers his inner Tarzan. Everyone enjoys being in the virgin forest, experiencing the biodiversity and celebrating what it is they have come here to save.
The next morning Willie introduces us to Jojo, a two year old orangutan who has been kept as a pet in the village for over a year. He manages to persuade the owner to hand over Jojo back to the police who asks us to bring her to Sintang with us where she will receive better care as she is clearly suffering from potentially dangerous parasites. The EWs are now half way through stage one of their mission and already they were starting to walk, talk, act and think like Eco-Warriors.