16 November 2018 – The Malaysian AEON Foundation (MAF) headed to Kampung Semul and Kampung Sagong located in Kuala Lipis, Pahang for a two-day excursion to install solar panel lights for the two Orang Asli villages.
The second phase of the ‘Light Up Lives’ project gathered 35 volunteers, 20 from AEON CO. (M) BHD. and 15 from AEON Credit Service (M) Berhad, and installed 48 solar panel lights inside the villagers’ homes to brighten up their nights. 22 of these solar panel lights were installed in Kampung Semul and 13 were installed in Kampung Sagong.
The day started for the volunteers on 16 November 2018 as they gathered at AEON HQ Taman Maluri. The group arrived in the afternoon and were briefed on the task at hand. The installation process consists of placing the solar panel on the roof of the home and tied with a cable tie. The wires are then pulled back into the house and hooked onto the power bank. A light bulb is then installed. The whole process took approximately 30-40 minutes. Everyone helped out and the installation of 48 solar lights took approximately three hours to complete.
The villagers were happy that they do not need to rely on kerosene to light up their homes at night anymore. According to the villagers, a month’s worth of kerosene would cost them approximately RM50. The average monthly income for these families is RM200 to RM300, and the cost of kerosene would take up a quarter of their monthly income. The solar panels are reliable and safer to use compared to kerosene lamps.
The group gathered for a welcome speech by Tok Batin. Mr Ajith Jayaram, Chief Strategy Officer of AEON Credit Service (M) Berhad cum committee member of Malaysian AEON Foundation also gave a short welcome speech to the participants. “The ‘Light Up Lives’ project aims to give our recipients a sustainable gift that we hope can change their lives forever. We hope that the solar panel lights will illuminate your lives,” he said.
The group then enjoyed a sumptuous barbecue dinner together with the villagers. Approximately 100 villagers came for this dinner and the volunteers had a chance to mingle and understand their daily plights. Following the dinner, the villagers performed the traditional sewang and joget lambak dance. The dances were led by the villagers and were joined in by the guests.
The next day, the group got a taste of the village life as they helped out the villagers in their daily routine. The volunteers got to experience rubber tapping and they were also given a chance to see padi bukit planted by the villagers.
The volunteers from AEON Credit Service (M) Berhad had also planned an engagement activity for the villager’s children. The ‘Young Financial Savvy Programme’ saw children aged 5 to 12 enjoying colouring activities, quizzes, familiarisation with money and ways to save money. The children were also given candies as a treat. Before the group left, the MAF distributed bags of daily necessities that consists of rice, sugar, salt and cooking oil to 48 families. Each family also received RM200 in financial assistance.
In total, the MAF have contributed RM200,000 in funds towards the Light Up Lives project phase one and two. It is satisfying to know that so many lives have been changed with the gift of light and the MAF hopes to continue to bring light to those who need it through this meaningful project in the coming years.