Kohadie (second right) with his guests
THE earthquake that occurred in Ranau, Sabah on June 5 would always be remembered for the devastation it caused as it claimed 18 lives, comprising climbers, including children and mountain guides, who were scaling Mount Kinabalu at that time.
Later the rivers there were flooded with mud and debris from the mountain. Riverbanks underwent some changes and some homes along the rivers concerned were destroyed. The tracks going up the mountain were damaged and one of the landmarks on Mount Kinabalu mainly the Donkey’s ears at the peak was also destroyed.
With this occurrence, mountain climbing was stopped not only because there were tremours afterwards but to repair and forge out new tracks to the peak of the mountain. Mountain Guides and porters were laid off as their services were not needed temporarily.
Their valour during the earthquake in rescue and recovery efforts were highlighted, as were their financial plights afterwards. So they became recipients of assistance from the generous members of the public as well as corporate bodies and the government and even royalty from other States.
It was not the same for Homestay participants in that area, though, as they were not in line for monetary assistance. However in some ways there was no difference where eking a livelihood was concerned; their source of income seemed to halt as their guests stopped coming.
Malaysian Homestay Association Vice President Kohadie Watiman said all homestay bookings for June and July were postponed to the end of the year by clients and as such, even after August the Homestay operators might still face very quiet days.
He said they wouldn’t be able to earn anything and recovery of the expected three months hiatus would be zero where their earnings were concerned.
“However, some have gone back to selling vegetables, while others started planting vegetables again. Some just go into buying bulk and selling. They do all kind of small businesses just to earn a living. Of course before the homestay programme these activities were their main source of income.”
“I advised them to embark on these activities anyway, because we just can’t stand still just because we don’t have visitors. I also advised them to carry out repair and maintenance on their homes so that they would be more comfortable for our clients in future. So the hiatus may be a blessing in disguise after all.”
“There are 18 villages with 195 homes participating in the homestay at the moment,” Kohadie who runs his homestay at Kg Sinisian Ranau said, adding that homestays only referred to those who offered packages, offering an insight on the people’s way of life.
He also stated that Lodges and chalets offering only accommodations should not be mistaken for ‘homestays’.
On the Hari Raya Celebration, Kohadie shared that they still held a gathering for members at Kg Sinisian on the third day.
“We held the celebration according to our capabilities. We did not splurge out on a big do. Suffice to say, the camaraderie was apparent as it is not how grand the celebration is but how we can foster rapport and friendship among us.”
He announced that a grand Hari Raya Carnival would be held on August 15, to fire up promotions for the Homestay in that area.-Sayangsabah