Borneo and Malaysia: The Journey That Started Them All

While I’ve been travelling since I was a tiny human, I never knew that my first somewhat independent overseas adventure would be the first stepping stone towards a beautifully interconnected path.

I’ve talked about the power of sustainable travel before but I have never really sat down and explained how this is a pillar of both my business and personal purpose.

Recently, I have found myself returning to a particular issue, in effort to advocate for palm oil free certifications, that I came across years ago on a sustainable travel expedition. This has made me really reflect on the connection between past sustainable adventures and MFARAI’s purpose.

So, how does this all tie together?

Borneo + Malaysia

During my years of conscious adventures, I’ve created so many meaningful connections with people globally. I have developed a greater understanding of issues around the world and have brought this knowledge with me wherever I go.

A huge part of this global understanding is thanks to my trip with World Challenge in 2011.

During this adventure, I travelled with a group of about 15 students to Borneo and Malaysia. There, we helped out at a wildlife sanctuary and a school for the blind, trekked for a week through Borneo’s rainforest, and took in all the beauty.

We also learnt about issues that are not so beautiful.

Particularly, we discovered the detrimental effects of the unsustainable palm oil industry on Borneo’s rainforest – including visiting a couple of wildlife sanctuaries that took in critically endangered orangutans after their homes were destroyed.

Borneo Orangutan Sanctuary

At the time, this journey was a lot for my developing brain.

It was physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. I would be lying if I said I didn’t return as a whole new person.

It was just one of those trips that instils a sense of unshakable trauma, latched onto you until you take the uneasiness from what you’ve experienced and use it for good.

Borneo Rainforest Hiking

Borneo Ancient Endangered Rainforest

Critically Endangered Orangutans

7 years, 1 degree, 5 more journeys, and 2 business launches later, and I got an intriguing phone call from a not-for-profit in this space. After a long discussion with the founder, I sat for a moment.

I felt so overwhelmed with purpose and power.

It was one of those moments where history crossed paths with destiny – a reminder that I am right where I need to be.

It is so fulfilling that I am continuing to use what I have learnt recently, combined with my travel experiences and stories, to bring awareness not only deforestation and the damaging effects of unsustainable palm oil production, but to social, cultural, and environmental issues globally.

Orangutan Sanctuary Borneo

How to Make a Difference

In order to really make change happen, we need to bridge the gap between consumers, manufacturers, and conservation projects.

As consumers, it starts with us.

We need to demand access to products that are certified. However, we also need to be aware that these products exist in the first place. Manufacturers are really at the centre of this. Businesses need to listen to the requests of their customers. They also need to have access to resources and certification processes to gain validation and to do better. 

Most importantly, we all would benefit by supporting conservation efforts and by giving back meaningfully. This happens by choosing the right projects to donate our time, energy, and money to. It means supporting grants programs that are genuine, respectful, and authentic in their efforts.

It’s an extraordinarily interconnected cycle, and transparency must be valued along the entire supply chain.

Honesty is key here – from sourcing ingredients and promoting products, all the way to our purchases and promotions as consumers.

In bridging this gap, we could make room for powerful change, not only in protecting endangered species but in all areas of environmental and social impact. 

And after all, the world gets better when we work together.

♡ Molly

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