Technology and tradition coexist in the rainforest

Another post from our guest blogger, Gerard Dunleavy….

DSC_8665The First Mile Project took its next steps towards developing a Rainforest Cybercafe this week. DSC_8912 colour enhancedFollowing on from the Computer Skills workshop in the indigenous village of RPS Air Banun with trainers from the Computer Unit of the School of Health Sciences, USM, two weeks ago. The trio of Nareeman Shah, Mohd Hariri and Haffiz Faezal returned to the rainforest to begin the next phase of the project.
Piece by piece, from the motherboard to the DSC_8669RAM, the computer team custom built 8 PC’s from individual pieces to form fully functioning PC’s. The PC’s are currently stationed inside Air Banun’s tadika, which BRAINetwork together with the Orang Asal established last January. The PC’s will remain here until an appropriate space for the PC’s is set up in the near future. The day after the PC’s were set up, we returned to Air Banun to find some eager members of tDSC_9035he Orang Asal community using their new computers.

A trip to the Belum Temenggor Forest Reserve is never complete without enjoying a few games with the Orang Asal children. We played a few different ball games until we were soaked to the skin after the evening downpour.

DSC_8743Elin, joined our latest visit to the Belum Temenggor Forest Reserve, participating in games with the children and even giving an impromptu yoga lesson to some young enthusiastic Orang Asal yogi.yoga2

On our recent visit to the rainforest, we also travelled by boat to the remote village of Chuweh, which is located along Lake Banding. We went to meet Womba, the head of the village of Chuweh, to discuss a proposed community garden that BRAINetwork will assist Chuweh in developing. Sadly Womba was visiting another village so we didn’t get to meet him on this occasion but we discussed the garden with other members of their community and wrote a letter for Womba informing him of our visit and future plans to return.

DSC_8958(1)The village currently grows ubi but struggles to grow any other crops. Unlike most villages, Chuweh doesn’t have an elelphant or wild boar problem but it does have difficulty growing due to interference from porcupines. We hope we can work with Chuweh on our next visit to develop an effective deterrent to assist the villagers in their attempts to grow vegetables for their community.

While we were in Chuweh we got to see the two beautiful examples of the indigenous craftsmanship. The first example was the picturesque traditional building that we’ll get to sleep in on our next visit to Chuweh on the 10th and11th of September.DSC_8960DSC_8946

The second example was the selection of small bags and purses that we found on sale in Chuweh. The decorative pieces are made from Mengkuang leaves and were handwoven by the elders of Chuweh. The Orang Asal told us that intricately designed pieces are crafted at nighttime as the daytime heat would make it impossible to craft such items.


BRAINetwork would like to thank Elin for volunteering her time in the rainforest. We would also like to thank the team from the Health Informatics Unit of the School of Health Sciences for their kind help and dedication to the project. Thank you very much En Nareeman Shah Che Muhamad, En Mohd Hariri Hashim and En Mohd Haffiz Faezal Ramli for sharing your time and effort with the Orang Asal.

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