Kampung Danu, a model village in more ways than one

Kenyalang Portraits

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Oct 16: Kampung Danu can be reached via the Borneo Highland side through a 20m-high suspension bridge over Sungai Sarawak Kiri. It was a good feeling to be welcomed by the gentle swaying of a hanging bridge over a scenic river and the lush green this Bidayuh village is nestled in.

A sense of tranquility prevails, where jarring sounds of the urban jungles are replaced with the soft whispers of the wind and flowing river and with the melodious symphony of the cicadas and birds in the background.

Crossing the bridge, one gets to enjoy the scenic Sungai Sarawak Kiri, which is clearly pristine and unpolluted with its turquoise shades. Due to the dry weather, the water level for this section of Sungai Sarawak has dipped, revealing a pebbled beach of sorts. This particular stretch of Sungai Sarawak Kiri is actually the starting point where the annual Padawan Raft Safari organised by the Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) starts.

From the signboard near the bridge, we knew the river is well protected because fishing is prohibited following the introduction of the “Tagang system” along the river.

After crossing the 50m-long bridge, we finally set foot on Kampung Danu proper.

Upon reaching the village, we could not help but noticed how clean it was. Situated on a hill slope, this settlement of 68 houses looks like a mirror image of an Italian village. Many of the houses are built close to each other, separated by pedestrian pathways. Wherever we go, the village is sparkling clean — no litter could be spotted.

The compound of every single house is well looked after, where even building materials are properly kept. It is no wonder Kampung Danu has won the cleanest village title under MPP jurisdiction many times over the years.

We did not meet many villagers while taking a stroll around the village. The few that we met greeted us with a big smile and a look that showed they were all ready to have a chit-chat. We did not accept their hospitality though but walked straight to meet the headman of the village, Ahip Naii.

Ahip, 74, who has been the headman for the past 18 years, said Kampung Danu had come a long way as it was only reachable by boats in the olden days. The road leading to the suspension bridge only came about eight years ago, while the one linking it from Kampung Semadang was completed two years ago.

It was not easy, but he knew education is the key to a clean, progressive and a prosperous village.

It was a hard push for almost four years before every villager became aware of the importance of having a clean and beautiful surrounding.

On education, the village set a target of having at least 15 graduates in their midst. As at today, they have more than 20.

Ahip’s current focus is to generate economic activities for the village. The village has already started the Tagang System and there is a cooperative to manage it. There is also a joint venture to plant oil palms and `Musang King’ durians on 2,900ha of communal land.

The DayakDaily team went to Kampung Danu after being informed that there was a `water problem’. What surprised us was, while many rural villages have water woes, the problem with this village is having “too much water”!. There already exists an efficient gravity feed, where the villagers enjoy an abundance of water without having to pay a single sen. About two years ago, government officials came along and announced they wanted to connect Kampung Danu to the main water grid. — DayakDaily