Yesterday afternoon we visited Rumah Suring, the longhouse that burned down earlier this year. It was very sad to see the ruins of this once beautiful longhouse. All the large heirloom pots, beautiful pottery, were sitting among the burned ruins - apparently if moved they simply collapse. All 43 families have built small shacks around the remains of the old building and they're waiting to build a new longhouse once suitable land can be found nearby.
For the past two months we've been collecting donations for these people - clothing, books, games, utensils, tools etc - and our aft cabin was full when we departed Singapore. Late this afternoon Tuai Rumah Suring (the longhouse chief) came to visit Crystal Blues in his longboat, and collected the donations. He was extremely gracious and grateful, and headed back downstream to distribute the goods among his people (a task I'm glad is his). Within days we noticed a large number of people in the district wearing sailing regatta shirts and carrying Raymarine shopping bags - the goods were in use. Thanks to all the boats that donated - your generosity is appreciated here.
Soon after the fire we sent a cash donation to the emergency appeal that had been setup. Tuai Rumah has held these funds, and wanted our permission to spend a portion of them on replacing the traditional musical instruments lost in the fire. Knowing our love for the local music it was a perceptive and appropriate request and we were delighted to approve. The balance will go to the re-building fund. If you're heading up river this season please think about what you can donate to these unfortunate families, who lost absolutely everything in the fire. Donations can also be deposited with Ian & Mona Robertson at Mona Medical Supplies in Kuching - if you've anchored at Santubong you'll know Ian and Mona as the people who own "Kumang", the yellow yacht moored in the river near Datuk Lingi's dock.