Batang Ai’s first community library is now under the guardianship of the Nanga Ukom longhouse residents following the handover ceremony in mid-July between the Organising Committee of the 59th ICCA Congress Asia Pacific Regional Hub (APRH) and the Longhouse Chief.
The ‘Gift of Love: Batang Ai Community Library’ was a Congress-led corporate social responsibility project undertaken by the 59th ICCA APRH Committee which originated from a book-sharing programme and then expanded into a life-changing initiative with the support of the public and private sectors.
“The public and private sectors have an even bigger responsibility than ever before towards the development of Sarawak through community outreach,” said Hii Chang Kee, state coordination chairman of the 59th ICCA APRH Committee and Permanent Secretary of Ministry Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak.
“The best way to achieve the Sarawak Government’s three aspirations of economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability is by working alongside the local community and our business events sector is leading the way in showing how the right intentions and partnerships can make a big impact on people.”
The library’s goal is simple: provide a functional space with educational resources to help retain more rural children in school. Yet, as simple as the goal sounds, the methods to achieve that goal needed international expertise and a stamp of approval from the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA).
“ICCA has spent years advocating positive societal impacts through business events,” said Waikin Wong, ICCA’s Asia Pacific regional director. “Sarawak raised the bar for the global business events sector when they announced this initiative as a Congress-led corporate social responsibility project. It’s time for sector players to think about how they can make an impact in their own community and we hope that more initiatives will be taken by destinations to transform global economies and societies.”
Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) won the bid in 2019 and adopted ICCA’s ‘Gift of Love” CSR programme. The main congress in Kaohsiung was hosted as a spoke-and-hub model and Kuching was the hub for Asia Pacific, held from 1-3 November 2020. As Congress host, Sarawak took a step further from the book-donation-only concept to build an actual community library that works with the local people on a long-term programme.
“Business events are about education which is why they are one of the most effective platforms to change lives around,” stated Committee Advisor and CEO of BESarawak, Amelia Roziman. “As a sector that is connected and collaborative with various parties, we have bigger opportunities to make a difference to Sarawak. This is our motivation and we hope that the library will inspire more business events organisers to replicate this library or create something similar.”
The 59th ICCA APRH Committee’s viral book donation campaign in 2020 culminated in 7,500 books being donated in nine days to furnish the library. The biggest book donation came from the residents of Raflessia in Petaling Jaya who generously donated over 1,200 books.
The ‘Gift of Love: Batang Ai Community Library’ was exclusively sponsored by Sarawak Energy Berhad in collaboration with Place Borneo, Conference People, the 55th ICCA 2016 Local Host Committee (Borneo Convention Centre Kuching), the Librarians’ Association of Malaysia, Sarawak State Library and CPH Travel Agency.
This article is brought to you by BESarawak