On April 24, 2018 our global community lost a generous civil servant, dedicated teacher and champion for rural access to renewable energy: Matthew Ding Ajang.

Matthew, a TONIBUNG technician, was visiting a micro-hydro site in Long Liam with Green Empowerment's Gabe Wynn and local leaders when he suffered a fatal heart attack. His last hours were spent working – as he always did – in service of his people.

After the incident, a small group brought Matthew’s body by boat down the Baram River. They passed seven villages where people knew him and cared for him, until they arrived at the village where Matthew taught generations of young people from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. It seemed the entire village was there to greet the group, all in grief.

Gabe Wynn, Green Empowerment Regional Director for Asia remembers "As I was sitting by his body on the boat, just before sunset, a flock of four hornbill flew overhead." The hornbill is an iconic symbol to the people of Sarawak. The beautiful and protected species is believed to have mythical powers.

As his family and local community mourn his passing, we mourn with them. This is an enormous loss for our long-time partner TONIBUNG, our collaborating partner SAVE RIVERS, our local allies and the global community as a whole.

To honor Matthew’s life, we collected funds to support his family’s immediate expenses and funds to continue his efforts to bring renewable community-owned electrical mini-grids to Long Liam and many other villages in the Baram Basin. Thank you to all who contributed.