Wan Noriah Wan Ramli.

The Almighty’s Call to Sustain Biodiversity

The forest with soaring trees, the endless screeching of insects, flourishing honey bee colonies, calm rivers lined with mangroves, flickering fireflies, cocks crowing and cats lounging about at Min House Camp, located in the serene Kampung Pulau of Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, will undoubtedly make one nostalgic about their good olden days.

Panaromic view of Min House Camp, at Kampung Pulau of Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. A place to relax, reflect and recharge.

Min House Camp, with its chalets, multipurpose halls, bee farm, fireflies, organic farm is an apt place to dwell and learn about nature and biodiversity. Its landscapes are designed to cater to the needs of the disabled as well, making it a learning and recreational centre for all.

For Wan Noriah Wan Ramli, the owner of Min House Camp, it was more of a destiny that dictated her to this noble task of imparting environmental awareness to the generation to come. Kak Yah, as she is fondly called, narrated an interesting account that led her to this agroecological venture.

“A decade ago, I had no intention of developing this land into a training centre. However, the events that unfolded transformed it into one. I worked as an assistant administrative officer at USM Kelantan campus and have 5 children.

“My 4 children left home one after another to pursue their higher studies and seek jobs, after which my Down syndrome son, Abdul Muhaimin bin Muhamad (Min) had to stay home alone.

Kak Yah with Abdul Muhaimin bin Muhamad. A mother’s unconditional love for her son led to life-altering agroecological ventures that was to benefit many.

“One day, Min was missing. After a long, stressful search, we finally found him on this one acre of our family-owned land. He chose to seek solace here after being jeered by the neighbourhood kids.

“We consoled him to return home, but he refused, stressing that this was his place as he loved the river, animals, and trees that never taunted him but calmed him more than ever. He refused to budge.

“Finally, we gave in and built a small cottage. “From that day on, Min has been staying here. Soon, more people came onto the scene. I offered this place to stay to a family that was desperately looking for a place to stay while one of their family members was receiving cancer treatment at the university hospital.

“Soon, university students, researchers, lecturers and architects came to stay, either for research purposes or merely to enjoy the beauty of nature. Some, overwhelmed by the diversity of the tropical forest of Kampung Pulau, contributed to the expansion of Min House Camp either through ideas or funds,” explained Kak Yah.

At present, Min House Camp is a hub for a wide array of activities for having fun and learning, such as firefly watching, kayaking, archery, clam digging, river bathing, fishing, village tours, night walks, handicrafts, fruit plucking, honey-harvesting, traditional games, cultural shows and ethnic cuisine.

Kak Yah shares her seed collection within her community and with visitors.

“The visitors are sure to have meaningful trips and pleasant Kak Yah is well versed in the uses and medicinal values of tropical trees. “Beluru (Entada spiralis) is traditionally used in natural shampoo preparation. The saga seeds (Adenanthera pavonina) are actually edible.

“The knowledge is ingrained in me because I was raised in such an environment. Once, I was requested to host an event where a VIP representing the Forestry Department was supposed to come and plant berembang trees (Sonneratia caseolaris) at Min House (berembang trees are vital to sustaining the firefly population).

“One day before the event took place, forestry officials brought 50 saplings, which shocked me to the core. Instead of berembang saplings, they brought bemban (Donax grandis) saplings.

“Being forestry officials, they are supposed to be well versed in common trees such as berembang. Later, a village boy helped me get 50 berembang saplings overnight.

“Through the incident, I realised the privilege of living in a place surrounded by nature. To learn about nature, gathering information from print and digital media alone will get you nowhere.

“Assimilating nature is a subconscious lifelong process, and it’s possible only when one lives and immerses oneself in nature,” explained Kak Yah.

Dried leaves are composted at Min House.
Kak Yah explaining about the kelulut honey to the participants of the seeds meeting organised by CAP at the Min House.

“With the flourishing berembang trees along the shores of the rivers, Kampung Pulau had once been a haven for fireflies. Over the years, the river has been polluted by industrial effluents, disrupting the ecosystem, which has resulted in a dwindling firefly population.

“The rivers need to be cleaned to sustain the diversity. It is a daunting task because it requires the consent and cooperation of the higher authorities,” pointed out Kak Yah.

Kak Yah has her own stingless bee farm and runs a gallery for local tourists to learn more about bee species, breeding, and honey harvesting. Hailed as one of the earliest harvesters of stingless bees in Malaysia, she claimed that around 43 bee nests in Min House Camp were not man-made beehives but mere works of nature.

The bees are drawn to the diversity and the lushness of the area that offers an inexhaustible supply of nectar and build their nests here, she enthused.

CAP officials together with participants in the seeds meeting held at Min House from 8-10 August 2022.

Min House Camp has been accepted as a member of the World Bee Association for its efforts in creating awareness on the significance of bees in sustaining nature.

“The Kelantan Farmers’ Association, Chinese Muslim Association, Down Syndrome Association, Psychiatric Association of USM, and the locals collaborate in our activities, making them more successful.

“We strongly believe it was the almighty’s call to us to delve into its beauty and understand its treasures,” concluded Kak Yah.

ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN with Down Syndrome through Aquaponic Method

Kak Yah is lauded for her constant efforts for working towards the healthy development of Down syndrome children. Myriad environmental activities that suit Down syndrome children are an ongoing activity at Min House Camp.

Aquaponic food production system is also used in Min House Camp as an effective learning tool for children with Down syndrome.

Aquaponic, a food production system combining aquaculture (breeding aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish, snails, or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water), whereby the nutrient-rich aquaculture water is fed to hydroponically grown plants, is used as an effective learning tool for children with Down syndrome.

Every weekend, children with Down syndrome, together with their parents, visit the centre. They feed the fish and observe the growth of the plants. Each of them is also in charge of one fish aquarium.

Such commitments keep them engaged and, at the same time, are good mental stimulators for people with Down syndrome.

Agroecology Fund