Today was a very powerful day. We went out of our comfort zone and learned about how other people live. It was amazing. The difference between our life and theirs was extraordinary. At 10 am we left Pom Pom Island and traveled to the island of Kalapuan to visit a community of people called the Bajau. [The Bajau are sea fairing people who have no official citizenship, the result of land division by outside nations.] It was heartbreaking to see so much garbage in such a beautiful place. The beach was piled up with trash. In some spots you could not even see the sand. Once we landed on the island we got some local kids together and started to do a beach clean up. We only had a certain number of garbage bags, so when we filled them up it looked as if we didn’t even make progress. My favorite part of the day was meeting this really awesome local kid. He stuck by my side and I tried to speak to him in Malay. I said some common phrases such as “Se-la-mat Pa-gi” meaning safe morning/good morning, “A-pa Kha-bar” meaning how are you? To which he answered by saying “Ba-ik” which translates to good. Some people bought the kids food from the local shops and they all swarmed. It felt so good giving back to these kids who live with very little.
When we were in the community we helped Joe and Nathan from TRACC build bottle reefs. Bottle reefs are bottles placed in a cement base and then placed in the water to be a habitat for small fish. We helped by shoveling and mixing the cement together, as well as placing bottles in the correct spots on the soon to be reef. After we finished building the reef we got back on our boat and went to a beautiful spot to swim and snorkel. Everyone was very hot and sweaty because on the island it had to be 100 degrees or so.
After the amazing visit to the Island we traveled by boat around to the other part of the Island to cool off and relax until we headed for a walk across the whole island. We started to snorkel around the Island for a bit and we saw amazing animals like sea stars and sea urchins. After a while in the water we headed out to the shores and I collected sand dollars near the shore with Ally. After this we headed on a walk to see the mangroves, it took around 2 hours as we headed back to the dock. After getting back to the island we had a barbecue and a bonfire to end an amazing stay on Pom Pom Island.