Our first visit to Borneo, August - October, 2012, end of the dry season. Fotos have no captions, but here’s a description of contents:
Upriver with Bardolf Paul & YTS - Yayasan Tuhubuk Sinta
Since 2003, Bardolf Paul is director of YTS (Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta). Yayasan means ”foundation”. My shooting covers some of the YTS community projects: instruction and demonstrations in pig and fish breeding, vegetable growing, forming village credit unions, proper rubber tree tapping and harvesting.
From prior experience in Vietnam, Bardolf introduced participatory planning in the villages, which dovetailed with new Indonesian government policies and impacted village programs throughout Borneo.
Accompanying us is Bardolf’s major assistant and translator Vita. Elsie and ‘Blink’ are other YTS staff members on part of the journey. Our main boatman is Kris. Nella is the ‘pig lady’.
First day we drive 200 km north to Miri, along the way seeing fires set by villagers to burn off the landscape for rice planting. In Miri we visit YTS’s regional headquarters. Next day we continue up the Kahayan by power canoe. In 4 days we visit 6 villages, some twice, within 50 km of Miri by water.
The Kahayan is the largest river in Central Kalimantan. The name means “Great Dayak”. All along the Kahayan, villages mine gold via dredging and hydraulic, turning the once clear water a perpetually muddy brown. Dredges suck up the river bottom and dump it down a sluice box. In hydraulic, hi-pressure hoses dislodge the soil, which is pumped up to sluice boxes and down into the river. In both operations, carpets in sluice boxes catch the gold which is periodically gleaned. Hydraulic creates massive erosive pits and both methods leave huge piles of small stones in the river, hindering navigation.
It is an exhilarating and grueling adventure. My T-shirt is usually wet before shooting an hour. We sleep on the floor, eat village food and bathe in the Kahayan. The outhouse is on the river, sometimes reached via notched pole. Electricity is by generator 5 hours in the evening. Villagers have computers, satellite dishes and motorbikes, but no running water or wastebaskets. Paper trash goes out the window. Plastic bottles are recycled. Bardolf spends half his time each month in these villages.
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