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A call to help

POSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 13 April 2018

Off-roaders offer a unique solution to assist people living in normally inaccessible areas.

Apart from conducting relief work during and after seasonal floods, many Malaysian off-roaders pay their own fuel and take time off to mobilise social clubs for charitable projects in deep jungles.

In Peninsula Malaysia where the situation is very different from Borneo – Sabah and Sarawak – we off-roaders sometimes wonder if the good intentions bring positive outcomes in the long term.

Last weekend, 11 vehicles from the Buaya Puchong 4×4 club went on an off-road mission together with the Bangsar chapter of the Rotary Club.

The Rotarians had identified Pos Betau for their mission, where they would send doctors, graduate doctors (before internship) and adequate pharmaceutical supplies to 19 villages under a resettlement scheme.

What we saw under the resettlement scheme were healthy children and adequate housing. The Orang Asli Department brings in a medic once a month and paramedics go in every fortnight. Pos Betau itself is not too inaccessible, maybe about 30 minutes off tarmac roads and there is a big school five minutes off the main road.

What we saw that was a little disturbing were teenage pregnancies and according to Prof Ernest Yeoh, the senior doctor in charge of the medical team, there were also single-mother-families.

One of the areas for improvement in future 4×4 charity missions would be better targeting. We should work more closely with the NGOs that promote orang asli welfare. There is a website www.hati.my which lists about 16 Orang Asli NGOs, including IDEAL and Gerai OA.

I talked about the high number of teenage pregnancies with Dr Colin Nicholas, the leader of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), and he said, “Are you sure they were teenagers? Young Orang Asli women look younger than they are.

“But yes, the girls tend to marry young,” Nicholas said.

The upshot of this is that COAC has identified a few villages which are not supported by the government which require a winch-equipped 4×4 to reach when it is raining as the track is wet.

Next month, we have identified two villages on the Perak-Kelantan border that are not on the government list.

Some of the families are so poor that they must share mugs. Dr Nicholas also advised that the size of the group for this village is just 3+1 four-wheel drives. The immediate necessities are pots and pans, cutlery and food.

Want to help? Check out the Malaysia Recreational Off-Roaders Society (MyROFF) website at https://sites.google.com/view/myroff/home, or get in touch with Yamin Vong on Facebook or email [email protected]

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