Families of Pa Mada gather for reunion dinner at Mega Hotel

Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Pa Mada singing hymns in a group.

MIRI: It was a gleeful evening for over 20 families of Pa Mada, a Kelabit longhouse in the interior of Baram, and guests who gathered for a reunion dinner at Mega Hotel here recently.

The villagers, who appeared jovial the very moment they entered the dinner hall at 7pm, are from all walks of life.

Some came from neighbouring countries including Brunei where they work and have settled down in, but most reside in Miri and Kuching.

“This reunion dinner themed ‘Know Pa Mada, Love Pa Mada’ managed to gather over 20 families of four generations from Pa Mada. Tonight, we are surrounded by so many guests, friends and family members who have travelled hundreds of miles and made long journeys just to be here today,” said its organising chairperson Pauline Ulit Bala.

Pauline related that the reunion dinner aimed at emphasising the importance of community living.

The Gatuman family showcasing their talent in playing harmonica on stage.

“Something amazing about community living is that it allows us to assist each other. This is something we cannot do individually. If we stay united and take responsibility together as a group, we can do extraordinary things and what is unlikely will be possible because we are united as one team,” she added.

Pauline said the dinner also aimed at promoting Pa Mada to their children and friends alike.

“As you know, most of our children are brought up in the cities and they hardly have opportunities to go back home or to visit our ancestral village.

“For those of us residing in town, we may live in the same town but we hardly have time to meet, let alone sit together over coffee or over a simple meal, even amongst our own siblings. This could be due to our busy work schedules or hectic lifestyles,” she said.

Pauline also listed other main objectives of the dinner which also serves as a platform to raise funds for several projects in the village.

“We are targeting to build a ‘Lepo Tauh’ (gazebo), next to the existing church, where everyone can sit around and relax since it is the only place where the internet signal is strong. It is also our hope to see this place vibrant with activities for youth and of course, the elderly folks as well.

“We are also working towards a community project, or maybe we can call it a village or community garden, a place where we can plant fruit trees, herbs or vegetables, where everyone can enjoy the fruits, or whatever we can harvest from it, whenever we go back home. We envision it as a community project for the community, by the community,” she revealed.

Among the activities held were tambourine dance performance, praise and worship, harmonica and sape performance and lucky draws.

There was also slide presentation of the olden days.

All attendees of the reunion dinner pose with Gerawat (seated fourth left) and other guests at the dinner table.

“The slides presentation also includes pictures of those who have left us over the years.

“Such reunion is important for us to draw people closer together, build good rapport and foster a stronger bond between us and hopefully get our younger generation to know each other even better,” Pauline added.

The evening ended with several families standing on the stage while singing songs which are close to their hearts and traditional dance performances by the Kelabit ladies.

Among those attending the dinner were Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala, State Public Service Commission member Datuk Robert Lian and Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Dr Philip Raja.


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