We progressed to the second phase of improving the lives of the orang asli with a team of 20 volunteers from AEON CO. (M) BHD and 15 from AEON Credit Service (M) Berhad. We began our two-day excursion on the early morning of November 16th last year, taking with them solar panel supplies as they head towards Kampung Semul and Kampung Sagong in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
The four and half hour journey was not entirely smooth. The team faced difficulties and took double the expected time, moving with heavily loaded vehicles through rough terrain from Pos Betau to Kampung Semul.
Upon arrival at 12.30pm, the team took a lunch break and began solar panel installations. 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 lightbulb is then installed. The whole process took approximately 30-40 minutes. Everyone chipped in and the installation of 48 solar lights took approximately three hours to complete. 22 of these solar panel lights were installed in Kampung Semul and 13 were installed in Kampung Sagong.
At long last, the villagers do not need to rely on kerosene for light anymore. A month’s worth of kerosene would cost them approximately RM50 out of their average monthly income of RM200 to RM300 per family. These solar panels would not only relief their financial burden, but is also more reliable and safer to use compared to kerosene lamps.
At 7pm, the group gathered for a welcome speech by Tok Batin and Mr. Ajith Jayaram Chief Strategy Officer of AEON Credit Service (M) Berhad cum committee member of MAF. “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, the latter said.
Night fell and we enjoyed a sumptuous barbecue dinner together with the villagers. 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 morning after breakfast, the group got a taste of the village life as they assisted the villagers in their daily routine. We tried our hands in rubber tapping and watched as the villagers planted padi bukit.
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.