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This Local NGO Set Up 40KM Worth Of Piping So Rural Villages Can Access Clean Water

Hopes Malaysia has been helping remote villages in Sabah break the cycle of poverty.

Cover image via Hopes Malaysia (Provided to SAYS)

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Getting access to clean water should be feasible in today's world, but unfortunately, that isn't the case for everyone

Leaving his 9-5 job in search of something more meaningful, Sam Lee wanted to help rural villages that are stuck in a cycle of poverty, struggling to attain even basic necessities such as clean water.

Together with his like-minded friend, Khay Inn, the duo founded a non-governmental organisation (NGO) known as Hopes Malaysia.

Sam Lee, co-founder of Hopes Malaysia.

Image via Hopes Malaysia (Provided to SAYS)

Wanting to make a difference, the pair set out to learn the ways of running an NGO from the ground up

After researching about how other NGOs work, they learnt that sustainability and improving lives in a practical way are what vulnerable communities need for long-term benefits. They understand that helping others isn't for the sake of feeling good, but to leave an actual impact.

"I make sure that our projects are highly feasible before introducing them to our villagers. For our first kampung, we spent years understanding their needs and behaviour to really connect with the people. We always start from basic needs and develop accordingly in phases," Lee explained in an interview with SAYS.

Hopes Malaysia's first project was in remote Kampung Tudan of Kota Belud, Sabah, where 300 villagers were unable to access clean water

In 2016, Lee and Khay Inn worked tirelessly for a year to fundraise and execute a 2km gravity water system. Together with the local villagers and kind volunteers from the city, they trekked into wild, unexplored jungles, pulling long stretches of piping to connect households in the village.

"Seeing the project's successful results and families being able to use water anytime at home made me realise this is what I want and need to continue doing!" the co-founder shared.

Lee with the families.

Image via Hopes Malaysia (Provided to SAYS)

Another one of the many projects took place this year in Kampung Melangkap Tiong, Sabah, where young primary schoolers were forced to cross a dangerous, old hanging bridge every day just to reach school

"Broken planks and rusty wire mesh had covered the bridge, resulting in children getting hurt and even falling into the rocky Mount Kinabalu River below. Families had been requesting for help for years from other channels, but nothing had ever been done even when their children became injured," Lee explained, adding that this is a fairly common issue in Sabah.

No child should have to feel scared just to travel to school.

As one of the many projects close to his heart, he felt the need to do something urgently. 

With support from generous public donors and the local community, Hopes Malaysia managed to repair the bridge for the children, which benefitted 700 villagers.

The organisation continues to help rural villages and communities in Sabah, and have since impacted over 10,000 villagers through these sustainable, long-term projects

Connecting more than 40km of piping to bring water to rural families has empowered villagers to be part of Hopes Malaysia's sustainable small-scale farming initiatives.

"Over 250 rural families now have lasting food sources via farming crops, fish, and chicken. This work has improved the rural community's food security and increased farmers' income, earning excess of average RM7,000 monthly by selling their extra produce at our community produce stall, Gerai Tamu Kita."

Additionally, three community suspension bridges have also been rebuilt to benefit school children and surrounding villagers.

The NGO's ultimate goals are to fulfil basic needs and gradually solve rural food insecurity, to break the cycle of poverty for future generations.

Besides donating, you can help by sharing their work, so Hopes Malaysia can continue to make a lasting difference for these underprivileged families

Avoiding the practise of 'gifting', Lee shared that the NGO strategically empowers the rural communities they work in through long-term sustainable development initiatives and CSR partnerships.

"The struggles of rural Sabah communities have only worsened.

"No child, mother or farmer should be left behind. Seeing families finally live with the basic needs resulting from our projects reminds me why I created and continue striving to make a sustainable impact with Hopes Malaysia... They need help more than ever not just to survive, but to thrive!"

All this month, SAYS will be featuring inspiring stories of extraordinary Malaysian changemakers in collaboration with Wiki Impact

Wiki Impact is an online platform dedicated to the impact industry. They share stories and data on issues that matter, highlighting impact-driven organisations and changemakers on the ground. Categories include poverty alleviation, social justice, gender equality, healthcare and education for all, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, impact influencers, and more!

Find out more here.

Image via SAYS

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