About

Barefoot Mercy

Our first initiative: we noticed our recipients were barefoot.

We are a Sarawak-based organization working to address the growing urban-rural divide in living standards in the state. Many rural communities continue to lack access to basic amenities such as electricity, clean water, health and education facilities, transportation and telecommunications, and as a result remain marginalised and isolated from wider society.

We began by distributing water tanks to drought-prone communities in 2011. At the end of 2011, we shifted our focus to Rural Electrification installing village-based micro-hydro systems for the generation of off-grid electricity. In 2015, we added further village-based initiatives with our Economic Growth and Education Support programmes.

 

Our Philosophy

 
Our founding belief is that it is possible to make a difference in the form of practical assistance to our rural communities. Communities can be empowered to participate in order to instil a sense of ownership over the projects. Our projects are usually structured such that rural communities are necessary partners to bring the project goal to fruition, usually via contribution of labour and on-site materials, which help keep project costs down.

 

Villagers at a micro-hydro installation.

2. Micro-hydro Installation

Villagers undertaking laying of pipes, groundwork for a micro-hydro installation.

3. Long K electricity poles

Electricity poles provided by communities from forest wood.

 

Sarawak

  sarawak map

Sarawak is one of 2 Malaysian states on the island of Borneo with a land area of 126,448 km2 and a population of 2.4 million of which 52% live in rural areas. Population density is low at 22 persons/ km2. By contrast, the Malaysian average is 88 persons/ km2 with a land area of 330,803 km2 and a population of 29 million. Herein lies a significant challenge for government to provide basic amenities to rural communities sparsely spread across the state.

Compounding this is the grouse that rural Sarawak has received inequitable government development compared to other areas in the country. Transportation and communication connectivity remain a challenge in turn leading to health and education facilities being inaccessible. Electricity and water supply remain behind other parts of the country – up to 2010, the electrification rate in Sarawak was 72% against 99% in Peninsular Malaysia. This leads to a scope for community-focused NGOs to work alongside wider government efforts.