How Bario Has Changed Me

Our stay in Bario was an
eye-opener to many of us in different ways. Subsequently, after having spent 16
days there, I have changed my attitude towards electricity, medical staff
availability, and food.


Bario’s major electricity
comes from their small hydro dam which is located about a half an hour walk
away from the longhouse in Bario Asal. So because it is such a small hydro dam,
it cannot generate a lot of power which means Bario is supplied with
electricity for about four hours a day only. They usually have power from about
7pm until 11pm. This made things like charging our phones or other chargeable
electronic equipment a bit challenging. And at night, we literally had to
lighten our ways by using our own torches – the lights didn’t work at nights.
So even though it wasn’t always very easy, it was still manageable. However,
this experience made me appreciate having constant electricity supply a lot
more; it has made me realize how important electrical power is and how much
convenience it offers. So after this experience, I have come to appreciate
things like lights (both in-house and outside) at night, fans and
air-conditioning during the day, my refrigerator, plugs that work 24/7 to
charge my phone and laptop, and my water heater in the morning a lot more.

Medical Staff Availability

In our last week, one of our
project members suffered from terrible stomach cramps and vomiting. It was quite
worrying because the pain was so bad that she was hardly responsive. As none of
us really knew what to do, I asked Dan to call the doctor at some point because
we simply didn’t know what was going on with our fellow WHEEtard. However, Dan
then informed us that the doctor was not available that very night which meant
we somehow had to take care of her on our own until the Bario Clinic would open
the next day at eight in the morning. It was about two o’clock in the morning
when we were informed about the doctor’s unavailability and that was a really,
really helpless and worrisome/scary moment. So one of us called her sister who
is a doctor to get her advice. So she told us to locate the pain in our fellow
WHEEtard’s stomach because if the pain happens to be from the right side, it
might very well be the appendix. And when this girl who was talking to her
sister on the phone mentioned the word “appendix”, there was a moment of
silence in that very room. We all knew that if that very stomach pain is caused
by her appendix then she needs immediate surgery. However, we also knew that
the next plane would only leave in about eight hours. So the looks we exchanged
in that very moment… Well you can imagine how worried we must have looked.
However, we did have some
medicine which we could give to her and we were advised to simply let her
sleep. So what we did was to take shifts – some people would always be up to
check whether she is doing fine. Then, in the following morning, she was
brought to the clinic whereby she was given some medication; she luckily
recovered within a day. This incident just made me realize how much we really
depend on 24/7 medical staff availability. We obviously do not need a doctor to
be around us at all times; however, when we actually do need one, we don’t wish
to wait for one for several hours. So this simply made appreciate constant
access to medical facilities in our urbanized place of stay a lot more. Knowing
that an ambulance is only a call away may be the standard for many, but because
of this experience, I see this as a luxury as there are a lot of people who do
not enjoy such a service.


Another thing I have come to
appreciate a lot more is food. After having seen and experienced how much hard
work is behind food production, I would never ever waste food again. Especially
after having worked on a paddy field, I have always eaten every rice corn on my
plate ever since I have returned from Bario. Farmers do a great job and we
wouldn’t be able to survive without them – they and their hard work needs to be
appreciated a lot more.

In conclusion, I am very,
very grateful for all these many experiences in Bario because they have made me
look at things differently – I value many things a lot more now.

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