Orang Asli Community Outreach by FHMS
Kampung Teras is a small, marginalized community of 112 people approximately 15 minutes’ drive from Slim River town in Perak. The village has no access to electricity and clean drinking water has been living in such only depending on diesel generators and solar-powered lights built by Incitement, a grass-root social movement on a mission to spark real positive impact in the world that Taylor’s Community under Group CSR is partnering with.
As for running water, the village has a solar water pump (which didn’t work at the time of the visit) that treats water that implies they are not connected to the water lines as well. Which brings us to a disturbing question: Why is this village, so close to the main road, and not at all isolated, have neither electricity nor running water? It’s not even the end of the road, too, for if you continue down the main road you’ll eventually reach the Gunung Besout FELDA settlements, which had these utilities.
With no clean and properly treated drinking water, it is no doubt that the health status of the villagers is poor, and some even alarming. Last Saturday, while most Malaysians were enjoying their long break, 33 students of Taylor’s University Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences (FHMS) under the School of Medicine (SOM), School of Biosciences (SBS) and School of Pharmacy (SOP) set out on an outreach project to Kampung Teras at daybreak.
Medical facilities are beyond convenient reach for the villagers there. Stacking on top of the inconvenience is their average household income, where their earnings are only sufficient for their daily survival. The issues were brought into the attention of lecturers Ms Peggy Hoo and Ms Chew Lye Yee from SOP and SBS respectively, during their site visit to the community somewhere in May 2017, to leap into action by devising various medical health interventions to address their dire need. Villagers consisting of children, adults and senior citizens were screened and medication was prescribed.
“This is an opportunity for students to identify the needs of people who are disadvantaged. As healthcare professionals, we commonly only think of our benefit and people of our group of income. We hoped that through this, we can make a difference in the healthcare for this community. We don’t want to just ‘hit & run’, we hoped that this can be something continuous and sustainable.” ~Executive Dean of FHMS, Emeritus Professor Dr. P.T. Thomas
Student volunteer, Tan Li Ying, Year 3 student of SOP noted, “it was indeed an eye-opening and fruitful experience throughout my degree course. Helping the children and having fun with them enlightens me and I will definitely join such volunteering programme again.” Another volunteer, a Year 4 student of SOM, Chong Min San also shared “it was my first personal encounter with the Orang Asli community. I learned a great deal from this experience and hope that SOM will incorporate more sessions like this for exposure for the students.”
The outreach programme accompanied by Professor Thomas, Professor Lai Nai Ming, Dr. John Tiong, Dr. Serene Abbas, Dr. Yan See Wan, Ms Peggy Hoo and Ms Chew Lye Yee ended successfully with 81 of villagers went through the health screening.
The minority communities in the country that is often forgotten, could really need help in any form from privileged people like you and I. Therefore we in Taylor’s, should not be blind sighted. Make it meaningful, make a difference, and make it matter.