On the boat ride across the Straits of Johor, I had the honor of being in the same boat as Dr Chua Ee Kiam, author of the book, Pulau Ubin - Ours to Treasure.
Other than celebrating the launch of a long awaited infrastructure dedicated to the volunteers who had worked hard on the island for almost a decade, it was also a excellent opportunity for volunteers from different organizations to get to know each other and catch up with the latest news. There were members from Nature Society Singapore, Green Volunteer Network, NPark's Ubin Volunteers, RMBR Toddycats, NIE Green Club and Wildfilm crew to mention a few. For the young'uns like myself, it's excellent opportunity to meet the seasoned old guards.
(L-R) Dr Chua with Pak Ali; Dr Chua and the Wildfilm Gang (Chay Hoon, Ron and Ria)
In addition to the volunteer hub opening, the event also coincide with the launch of the HSBC Care-For-Nature stamp series whose latest theme was inspired by NSS' Fun with Nature series with Vilma at the helm of the program. The RMBR Toddycats! were all excited of course as one of the animals featured on the stamp series is a civet cat, or more affectionately known to us as a Toddycat.
A glimpse of the stamp series with a civet cat on one of the stamps!
To officiate the launch of the volunteer hub, 3 final tiles were added to the mosaic collage on the outer wall of the building. There I was thinking previously why it was left empty but now we know the reason! The collage was made up with photos contributed by staff and volunteers on the island with the mascot of the island, the Pied Hornbill featuring prominently over the outline of the island. The photos highlights the spectrum of activities that volunteers conduct on the island, from the early days of chek jawa to even the International Coastal Cleanup (ICCS) that happens every year on the island. We even spotted many youthful photos of familiar faces taken years ago! See if you can spot them when you visit the volunteer hub.
The completed mural featuring ICCS!
The new volunteer hub comes complete with a lounge for the volunteers (below left) and even a computer with broadband access for the use by ubin volunteers! The world has met Ubin through the internet for a long time but this is probably the first time Ubin met broadband Internet! Other than previous dial-up modems accessible to the NParks staff on the island, this is quite an interesting addition to the island. Unfortunately it's only available to staff and volunteers. If only IDA will next consider introducing free wifi to Ubin!
(L-R) Enjoying the volunteer lounge; broadband on ubin!
There is also a library with books and resources on Ubin and its ecosystems. This is part of the resource room. Not to forget, the NParks staff will also have their offices housed at this volunteer hub. At the end of the day, volunteers and staff gathered together to celebrate the joyous occasion with a few bubblies.
(L-R)Kenneth checking out the books; Hitting the bubblies!
But the day was not over yet! Concurrent to the launch of the hub and stamp series, Vilma and her team from NSS Education Division was working hard under the sun, having fun with nature with a big group of kids! The morning saw a big group of them gathered in front of the site of the future "Project Green House Ubin", a new eco-center by the Green Volunteer Network. Otherwise affectionately nicknamed "Grant's House" by this Monkey.
Registration and the crowd for NSS' Fun with Nature
There were activities for the kids within the hub with storytelling and videos. But of course Fun with Nature can never be kept indoors! There were lots of activities for them in different stations over at the Jelutong Campsite, otherwise known as the Butterfly Hill.
(L-R) Gathering in what the monkey thinks is the multimedia room at the hub; Fun under the sun in little canopied stations at Butterfly Hill overlooking the sea