Aneng, a former Dompeng worker, told us his story when we meet him one day in 2019. It was fast and easy to earn money from Dompeng, and without enough wisdom, it was naturally fast for him to lost all the money on the gambling table. The story got worse when the drug dealing started to creep into villages in Kalimantan. Years after, gold extraction industry in the area was declining, leaving Aneng in perplexity. He has lost his living, and particularly, he has lost his youth.
Two generations ago, Sagatani was a little village surrounded by lush rain forest and the clear, majestic Sarantangan Lake. The forest and the farm provided enough for the people’s need. It all began to change when the gold mining started in Habang area, Sagatani. The forest was cleared and the land was excavated–leaving massive pits here and there. The clear lake is now polluted with mercury and other toxic from the illegal mine.
Dompeng is a local word for an equipment used in illegal gold mining. These loud, thundering machines were scattered around Sarantangan Lake. Dompeng is not only altering the view of the village, it is also changing the life of the Habang people. Gold mine’s easy money often allures the youngsters to leave school. They prefer use their time to extract gold ore, even if it means they have to work with direct contact of toxin and without proper safety equipments.