The Malaysia Orang Asli (Indienous People) Back-Liners at TaCOA
The COAC team handling a video interview with a journalist.
Since the Covid-19 Orang Asli Fund (TaCOA) started 12 days ago, the Fund has raised RM242,910.92 and disbursed RM185,700.00 to 3,488 families in 89 Orang Asli villages in the peninsula.
But none of these would have been possible if we did not have a close team of dedicated people working tirelessly to make sure we are responding quickly to donors and communities in need.
From left: Dayong, Faezza, Lili & Shalin
From the beginning of the TaCOA campaign, Lili and Faezza were the ones in direct contact with the Orang Asli communities, both to enquire about their situation and to receive their requests for aid.
Based at the COAC center in Subang Jaya, Lili (a Semoq Beri) and Faezza (Temuan) have been working hard to make sure we reach out to the Orang Asli in need. They were later joined by Shaniera (@ Dayong) and her sister Shalin (both Semai). All of them are Subang-based, incidentally.
They are constantly on the phone; receiving and making calls to answer inquiries from the Orang Asli, collecting information from them and giving guidelines on how to apply for funds and to make purchases. It can be very challenging to stay in touch with the communities as many of them have little or no access to mobile networks.
The information collected and documented from the communities are vital for the campaign as they let us know the situation and the needs on the ground.
Reliable Local Coordinators need to be identified, various demographic information collated, and arrangements for the transfer of funds and its accounting need to be put into place. Then there is the reporting on the use of the funds (usually by way of photos and receipts).
The trio assesses each community’s needs, taking into account whether (or not) the community had been served fully or partially by the government, NGOs or other parties. Once eligible, they decide on the amount of cash aid to be transferred to the Local Coordinator for the community. This process is usually done in a day, at the end of the day.
The bank transfers are usually done at night so that the communities can withdraw the funds and arrange to purchase and deliver the items needed the next morning. This is also the time when the local communities report back, and when more enquiries about the aid facility is received from individuals and the communities.
Peak time: Updating the online list of fund transfers to be made to Local Coordinators that night.
Together we are more effective
Even so, COAC would not be able to manage such a campaign on its own. Hence the collaboration with Raleigh International Kuala Lumpur (RIKL) and Impian Malaysia (IM).
Raleigh KL basically manages the donations and the publicity for the campaign. They have been particularly good at automating all the ‘administrative’ functions of the campaign such that the public can get to view the detailed donations and disbursements in real-time.
The Orang Asli have the capacity to find their own solutions.
When planning the TaCOA campaign, all 3 organisations agreed that the process and method to be followed will be based on 3 core principles:
- Recognising the capacity of the Orang Asli
& Respecting the Right to Self-Determination
We believe that the Orang Asli know best as to what their community needs. And that because they function as a community, or should be encouraged to function as one, there is always sufficient capacity within it to manage, realize and execute the aid project. And they will do this in a manner that will bring benefit to all in the community, no matter how small the aid.
- Transparency & Accountability
All parties agree that accountability is a basic right of the donors. And for there to be accountability, there must be transparency. This is also impressed upon the Local Coordinators who are required to be equally transparent in their dealings with us and the community.
All donations and disbursements of funds can be publicly tracked in realtime at this link: https://bit.ly/3aS0eTh
The average Malaysian generally holds a number of misconceptions or stereotypes about the Orang Asli. Many have perceived that Orang Asli economies are resilient enough for them to ride out the MCO. But we know that this is not so. The MCO affects different Orang Asli differently and as such their needs also differ. The campaign would use this ‘crisis’ as an opportunity to create greater awareness about the Orang Asli and their situation.