Friday, 21 June 2013

Orang Asli

Today I visited an Orang Asli village on Pulau Lumut, an island not far from Klang.  The Orang Asli are the indigenous people of Malaysia.  There are 18 Orang Asli tribes in Malaysia, each with their own different language and customs.  

Many of the Orang Asli have been displaced from their traditional settlements.  The villagers on Pulau Lumut have had much of their land confiscated from them to allow for redevelopment.  The Orang Asli are a very much marginalised in Malaysia.  

The Orang Asli fishing boats

The Orang Asli on Pulau Lumut earn their livelihood from fishing, although I get the impression it is a fairly subsistence way of life, living hand to mouth.  The village itself is very poor, with people living in extremely basic dwellings.  

Two of the very basic dwellings in the village

A small group of people from St Barnabas visit this village each week to provide extra maths and English tuition to the children, at the request from the village elders.  Although the children do attend school, this extra support they get is really important, as it gives them a better chance to succeed in life, and build a better life for themselves.  It also gives the children much needed hope.  The villagers have also turned to the church to help them with some of the land issues they are facing - and how the development of the island is impacting on their traditional way of life.

Some of the children who attend the tuition classes

One of the boys who attends this study group is physically disabled - because of this he has not been given the opportunities the other children have, although there is absolutely nothing with his brain, in fact he's a very bright boy.  

Aunty, one of the volunteers from St Barnabas, helping one of the children read

It was genuinely moving to see the care and compassion the people from St Barnabas have for these children.  They not only help with tuition, but also provide clothes and toys for the children, and really care for them.  It was very moving to see, and lovely to be able to spend time with the children in the village, who despite the poverty were so full of life.