It has been said that every adversity contains within it the seed of opportunity and growth.
It’s almost two years since the earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 richter scale struck Sabah.
For the villagers of Kampung Kiau Nuluh, Kota Belud, it was a devastating and nightmarish experience, one where they lived in constant fear as the aftershocks continued.
Twenty-two months on, there is much to rejoice as Koonduan Kiau Nuluh Enterprise (KKNE) celebrates the opening of their brand new pineapple production building sponsored by Sabah Credit Corporation.
The realisation of this building stands testimony to the resilience of this community.
The earthquake also took away eighteen lives including Robbi Sapinggi, the heroic mountain guide who hails from this foothill community.
It was during this sad and challenging phase when significant number of jobs were lost due to the closure of the mountain, that Good Shepherd Services (GSS) took the initiative to engage and collaborate with the the women from this community to embark on a journey of socio economic empowerment.
The project codenamed “Everything Pineapple” was Good Shepherd’s first community based socio-economic venture in Sabah.
“Our focus at that point in time was to provide beneficial change for their recovery process. Leveraging on ‘semangat kekitaan’ or ‘the spirit of oneness’ in rural indigenous communities such as Kiau Nuluh, the strategy was to make this a focal point to secure a sense of shared purpose and aspirations,” said Chin Poh Choo, Executive Director of Good Shepherd.
“This socioeconomic project, began in August 2015 has become a rallying point for collaborative community engagement and action,”she added.
From an initial four-month pilot phase involving eleven women, this socio-economic initiative presently has forty-nine members, each representing a family.
This membership will be increased to sixty women in July 2017.
KKNE started their production with two products, pineapple jam and pineapple chutney but has since expanded its range to include and two new products, pineapple chutney with anchovies and pineapple juice.
The products also received a new look early this year through freshly designed labels from Arthur Lee, a GSS volunteer.
Importantly, the introduction of the bottling and canning process has extended the shelf life of the products from the initial one month to one year without requiring it to be chilled.
“I am personally touched by the support received from unknown individuals who genuinely want us to help us succeed. Their kindness and care had a special healing touch for us,” said Jovita Banita, a member of KKNE.
To support this community-based socioeconomic empowerment women initiative, Sabah Credit Corporation has generously provided a grant for the construction of a building which will now serve as KKNE’s Pineapple Processing Centre.
The Centre known as “Sunduan Pisompuruan” aptly reflects the spirit of solidarity and strength that prevails in the community today.
The prominent yellow coloured double storey building has a built up area of 2,000 square feet.
The Centre houses a café, an admin office, two bedrooms, a kitchen for the production and even a children’s room to support the women in KKNE who have smaller children.
“I feel very touched when I think about the journey of KKNE, starting with the earthquake in 2015. I am grateful because previously we focused only on our own economies. Sunduan Pisompuruan symbolizes how strong the community has become since the sadness in 2015. This thanksgiving is a very meaningful event to the community to be thankful for what we have gone through and the tremendous support we received from Good Shepherd. I believe there is a time for everything and this moment is the time to be thankful that we are always united and are able to empower ourselves as women as well as the economy of the Kg. Kiau Nuluh community,” shared Lucy Suin, one of the pioneer members of KKNE.
Another KKNE member, Wahimah Sulaiman also shared, “We are grateful to God that KKNE together with GSS have reached this day. We do not have to wait until we are truly excellent but for me in this humble Thanksgiving celebration, it is a visual symbol to express our thanks and gratitude to all our benefactors, volunteers, all those who have contributed and also to our community members. My hope is that KKNE will continue to be strong and will always be centred on the concept of unity to continue to be empowered in our economy, and for bright future of our children and grandchildren.”
The thanksgiving celebration held on Apr 24, 2017 is of particular significance as it celebrates the feast day of St. Mary Euphrasia who founded the congregation of the Good Shepherd Sisters.
“Today in Good Shepherd, we celebrate courage and zeal. Our community partnership with KKNE has been a mutually beneficial journey – one that often challenged both GSS and KKNE to draw upon each other’s wisdom, trust and strength. Our shared commitment also constantly require us to challenge norms and risks together for our shared aspirations of empowerment towards a positive change process for themselves, their families and communities,”said Chin.
“Sunduan Pisompuruan is an inspirational milestone for KKNE that will now provide new impetus for growth. We are grateful for partners like Sabah Credit Corporation who share our dream and commitment to the empowerment women, particularly those in rural communities in Sabah,” she added.
For information on the products, please call KKNE Admin at 019-8074930.