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9 Days, 500 Books and a Lifetime Legacy: 59th ICCA Congress Asia Pacific Regional Hub to Gift Batang Ai with First Community Library

Kuching, 28 October 2020: Sarawak’s business events industry, led by Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak), have always pledged to use its professional connections and resources to shape the development of society, especially in rural areas. Now, the rural community of Batang Ai has been gifted with BESarawak’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project called ‘Gift of Love: Batang Ai Community Library’, built on the grounds of Nanga Ukom longhouse.

The CSR is organised by BESarawak together with International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA), Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), the Librarians’ Association of Malaysia, Sarawak State Library and CPH Travel Agency. It is aptly tied to the upcoming 59th ICCA Congress Asia Pacific Regional Hub to be held in Kuching,  arawak from 1st – 3rd November 2020. The Gift of Love project is the brainchild of ICCA where congress delegates and supporting organisations are encouraged to donate books and learning materials as a
way to leave a physical legacy behind.

The library is well-suited to the regional congress’ theme this year, which is on the legacies of conventions; and one highlight shall be the brand-new legacy impact measurement instrument which is a model to forecast the tangible and intangible effects of business events. The CSR construction will be a pilot project to measure the viability of this instrument which started with the data collection of how many children from the 7 Batang Ai longhouses were still in education.

“Business events is already the driving force behind Sarawak Economic Action Council’sbadvocacy for community development, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability,” remarked BESarawak’s Acting CEO, Amelia Roziman. “One of Sarawak’s 7 Key Focus Areas focus on rural transformation whereby education is outlined in the top 3 agendas. When we improve education, we can achieve another of the focus areas which is to re-engineer Sarawak’s economic growth through rural entrepreneurship.”

Since education is at the forefront of this project, one element to this pilot project is to see how effective the library will be at encouraging children to remain in school. According to Nanga Ukom’s longhouse chief, a majority of the longhouse children within that area do not complete their secondary education, leading to a severe lack of graduates and employable youths.

“A library today can be a school tomorrow which is our future aspiration and legacy for this community library,” Amelia continued. “We’re vying to collaborate with local education authorities to turn the library into a pre-school and a learning centre. To further push the educational capacity, we are in the midst of collaborating with destination management companies to develop a unique CSR for tourists. This is specially designed to encourage tourists to get involved in teaching basic English to the longhouse locals or partake in a cultural exchange programme.”

The library is already 90% complete, with add-ons such as the installation of solar panels to supply Nanga Ukom longhouse with sufficient electricity. The opening ceremony will be held on the 27th November 2020 at Nanga Ukom longhouse, attended by Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture cum Minister of Youth and Sports, Datuk Karim Rahman Hamzah.

BESarawak is setting a record to get 500 books for ages 5-15 years old in 9 days, starting from 27th October until 6th November. Individuals, associations and corporate organisations are encouraged to drop book donations at BESarawak’s office – level 3, Plaza Aurora, Jalan McDougall, Kuching. Further details on the drive can be found on BESarawak’s Facebook page @businesseventssarawak.