Malaysia, 4-5 July 2020 – JRS joined the Orang Asli Ministry of St. Michael Church in Ipoh, to serve Orang Asli villages during the lockdown of COVID-19. As there is no hospital near their communities, New Thessalonian Apostolate (NTA) together with a doctor and nurses from Fatimah Ipoh Hospital have been bringing medicine, medical equipment, and food rations to the villages once a month since the pandemic. On 29 August to 1 September 2020, JRS joined NTA to visit Orang Asli again at 3 villages; Kg Taluk, Kg Penderas, and Pensec, for a health check-up and food distribution. Most of the health problems found are acute starvation and protein deficiency.
Pak Husin, the head of the village, stated that the villagers suffered from malnutrition due to lack of enough food. They ate only one meal a day or one meal per two-day. The lockdown caused income and food shortage in communities as their source of income from forest yields and rubber tapping was reduce.
Orang Asli is widely regarded as a peninsular Malaysia’s original inhabitants living in secluded jungle locations. They are one of Malaysian’s indigenous groups who are displaced from their original homes due to deforestation and rotational plantation and are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the remoteness of their villages, assistance is limited in their communities including access to healthcare services.