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PUBLISHED: May 26, 2015 7:00am

Mt Kinabalu hikers lend helping hand to children’s home at foothills

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FERNANDO FONG By:
Fernando Fong

Underprivileged children from the Don Bosco Children's Home performing for hikers who climbed Mount Kinabalu at the home in Bundu Tuhan, near Kundasang, next to the mountain. — TRP pic by Fernando Fong

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KOTA KINABALU, May 26, 2015:

For the last six years, the Don Bosco Children’s Home in Bundu Tuhan, Kundasang, near here had been benefiting from hikers up Mount Kinabalu.

Thanks to Tony Quay, an experienced hiker who had climbed Mount Kinabalu more than 40 times, participants who joined in his charity hikes would donate a portion of the fees to the home, which relies totally on public donations.

The home also receive any surplus from the porter fees, meals, transport and accommodation for the hikes.

Sister Anne Marie, the caretaker of the home, is thankful for the donations as some 70 children live there.

They are mostly from poor and broken families or those staying deep in the interior where there are no schools nearby.

“We are grateful to the many hikers, led by Quay, who continue to help the home.

“Without their support, we will not exist.

“They help us financially with donations and goods in kind, ensuring that the children, aged eight to 17, are cared for,” she told The Rakyat Post.

Quay expressed regret that the local community had not enjoyed much in terms of the social and economic benefits despite being blessed with the majestic Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s First Unesco World Heritage Site.

He said tourism had proven to be one of the most effective means to drive job creation and economic development in local communities, but much remains to be desired for the locals here.

“The positive benefits of tourism seem to be bypassing them as they are limited to low-paying jobs such as porters, van drivers and mountain guides, including those who grew up in Don Bosco Children Home.

“As visitors to Mount Kinabalu, we ought to be respectful and inclusive of local communities, especially when one realises that it’s not exactly cheap to sign up.

“We should practise tourism ethics and responsible tourism, hence the idea to help out the children home,” Quay, who is a bank employee, said.

Quay would also insist that his participants spend a day in Kundasang, a small village at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, so that the locals can benefit from tourist dollars.

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