These important Orang Asli stories are the effort and hard work of four Indigenous youths from the Jakun tribe in Rompin, Pahang. They are Eliana A/P Tan Beng Hui, Diana A/P Tan Beng Hui, Analisa a/p Atang, and Norifa Jamiza a/p Jamil.
They are youth leaders in their community who are directly involved with movements to combat issues threatening their land. Eliana, Diana, Analisa and Norifa have also worked on several other projects relating to Orang Asli issues, such as Apa Kata Wanita Orang Asli, a filmmaking collaboration with young Orang Asli women from various Indigenous groups in Malaysia.
For Weaving Hopes for the Future, these four youths were responsible for finding sources, interviewing, filming, and editing the documentaries while grappling with poor weather and internet connections and the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic was impacting their community.
They faced many significant challenges throughout their journey, such as identifying interview subjects and persuading reluctant ones to share their stories.
As youth leaders, they took on the additional burden of mobilising vaccine registrations, transportation and food aid during Malaysia’s strict lockdowns, a situation made direr as most people could not work or buy food. They were also reluctant to travel far from their village in fear of further spreading Covid-19 among the community.
The weavers involved in the Weaving Hopes project are from the Indigenous village (Kampung Orang Asli) Sungai Buloh in the state of Selangor.
The weavers are led by Hanim Apeng and her sister, Marini Apeng from the Jakun-Jah Hut tribe, and consists of extended family members from the Temuan tribe, including master weavers and mother-daughter duo, Norlila Alias and Noraini Hempit; as well as Norlila’s daughter and granddaughter, Norlinda Abdullah and Norita Azeela.
Most weavers traditionally earn their weaving skills from their grandmothers during childhood, though some pick up the skill as students in school.
TIJAH YOK CHOPIL
Tijah Yok Chopil is a prominent Semai leader, and activist for Orang Asli concerns in Malaysia. Since 1986, Tijah has emerged as one of Malaysia’s most influential Indigenous voices, beginning with Ibu-ibu Kampung Chang (Mothers of Kampung Chang), a women’s group based in her village Bidor, Perak.
In 1995, the group eventually evolved into Sinui Pai, Nanek Sengik (New Life, One Heart), an organisation devoted to empowering Orang Asli women’s with economic skills and knowledge about their rights.
Over the last 20 years, the Sinui Pai, Nanek Sengik model has been replicated in villages across Perak and beyond. It has culminated in Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM), a grassroots network highlighting Orang Asli issues and campaigning for the governmental recognition of Orang Asli land and rights. It organises empowerment training and forum for the Orang Asli to help them understand their rights and teach them how to stand up for themselves.
Tijah is now Chairperson of Orang Asli Network of Peninsular Malaysia (JKOASM) and has represented the Orang Asli in many United Nations initiatives, including participating in the International Human Rights conference in Geneva.