Chrisdiana Bint Samahli, an aspiring youth from Brunei Darussalam, realizes that COVID-19 does not only expose the gap of internet access, but also the lack of electric infrastructure in developing regions. During the ASEAN Photo Competition programme in 2021, she created a photo story titled "One Which Lights the Night" to promote the potential of solar energy and how it helps provide a more sustainable supply of electricity in rural areas.
What motivated you to join the ASEAN Photo Competition programme?
Experience is valuable since it allows us to develop and learn new skills. As you can see, knowledge acts as a glue that holds information and learning together, and it is also essential for personal development.
I felt so fortunate to be able to participate in the ASEAN Photo Competition 2021 with the ASEAN Foundation about sustainable energy with other participants from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
What did you do throughout the programme?
I’ve learned how to convey a narration via sorting out a sequence of photographs and telling the stories behind each of the photos. I’ve also learned how to express those stories likewise the feeling I’ve gathered while capturing the image myself to visually share those wonderful moments with others.
To narrate the stories through those sequence of photos from my eyes as well as from my heart, I realized that I need some phrases that can draw in the reader’s attention and not immediately tell the reader a story from the picture itself, but rather explaining to the reader what is going on behind the picture. This is due to the fact that no one knows exactly what happened at that moment. The ASEAN Photo Competitions workshop has lasted for six days, whereby, Frederick and Marcus from ‘The Photo Book Museum’ (a non-profit organization based in Germany), have coached, and trained us all participants very well.
Can you share with us what you learned during the workshop?
First, they taught us how to use visuals and narrative to tell a tale. While the course was in progress, we as participants were asked to show the photos that we have taken and later shared the story behind them whilst emphasizing the unique approach towards sustainable energy.
Personally, to me, it was a great experience, and I admit that the locations shared were fascinating as not everyone could travel around the world and learn the amazing things each country has, let alone the region within Southeast Asia.
When the other participants showed their respective photos, it made me feel as though I was there. Besides them, I’ve shared mine too.
What’s the story behind your photos?
The photographs were taken at Dayang Tengah resident, which was located at the far end of the rural area of Sungai Hilir, Sukang. Mukim Sukang is in the southern part of Brunei, situated in Belait District which is the largest district in Brunei Darussalam.
The members from PEMBELA Association, the youth volunteers, and the residents of the village have assisted in the installation of a solar panel onto her house, ensuring a sustainable supply of electricity to some parts of her home, which sadly has been a challenge for her and her family for a quite long time.
Obviously, to get a transportation from her place to the petrol station within the sub-urban area outside the village is very costly. In fact, it costs more than the amount of fuel she was allowed to purchase as there is usually a limited volume for public purchase due to the policy.
Traveling almost 3 hours to obtain the fuel for her electrical generator is not at all worthy as the installed solar panel that lights up her house at night. I was there capturing the moment as I could feel her relief and how grateful she was to have such small favors yet a huge privilege for her and her family.
What drives you to advocate for the development of sustainable energy?
Brunei Darussalam is well-known for its Oil and Gas Industry, hence, such issues of non-renewable energies and concerns related to sustainable energy are quite familiar and closely matter to my community.
Over the last 6 days, I’ve learned that promoting sustainable energy is essential nowadays as it helps to reduce issues like fuel consumption while resources are draining out. Oil and gas are known to be initially made from biological material that is mostly deposited as sediments at the bottom of the seabed or in the ground. Only after millions of years then the sediments break down, change and turn into valuable resources like fuel. Unfortunately, their values can progressively deteriorate after a period.
I would not be surprised if oil and gas become depleted in the future if an energy conservation campaign is not taken as a serious matter and no alternative to sustainable energy is thought of. Hopefully, people will start to be concerned and be more aware of the need to practice a sustainable energy lifestyle.