Saturday, February 12, 2011


Its time we share a run with them . . . . . . . . by Karen Loh

We runners have a good camaderie on the foundation that we love running. We runners run regardless where, so long as it is a good run with good company and good spirit. And sometimes for a good cause. So it has come to a time, where we can share our love for a good run in our natural terrain with ferns and sprawling flora - a Trail Run in the forest!

But what of sharing this trail run with the original folks of the forest? Would you like a RUN with Orang Asli? Here are some thoughts by four runners :

Karen Loh:
"Since running more 'seriously' in June last year, my runs have always been motivated by raising awareness of our Orang Asli. The tag "Running For Orang Asli" started in Shape Run 2010 and has since been well spotted during various runs. Even when I'm not running, many running friends have volunteered to run for Orang Asli."

"Why build awareness you may ask? What could possibly be needed since we assume the Government grants the Orang Asli subsidies and some are given allowances? Well, short of firing up any controversy or start any political arguments, lets just absorb plain old reality. What am I to think when I see NO electricity NOR running water in the villages I've visited? And this all within less than a LSD from the city itself! How am I to feel when someone takes toll money through an oil palm estate just for me to enter the village? Where is the justice when the sad remaining plots of their customary land have been pushed by hungry agri-estates into the fringes of forest and road?"

"Imagine the sight of little ones going to school without school shoes. Picture your own child wearing the same uniform for 3-4 years in a row - patchwork on patches, safety pins and sewing kit to make ends meet. Imagine tiny 8 year olds being rounded up and sent to boarding school 1, maybe 2, or even 3 hours away from their parents. Try thinking why so many drop-out at secondary level, having believed that school fees were free...not."

"So why Run for OA? Yes, to raise awareness, but perhaps also we runners can assist the OA in our own way, with a little assistance to ease their struggle into society's routines. Whilst respecting their choice of lifestyle, honour their unique anthropological background, their culture, their boundaries and most of all their privacy. The indigenous folks are fellow lovers of the trail but certainly and more importantly are our Fellow Malaysians.

Dzul Aminuddin (some know me as Barefootdzul!):
"Karen's personal cause morphed into this Run via my initial idea of a nature trail run for charity. My thoughts were we often run in corporate-managed events which raise charity but wouldn't it be awesome to have a direct and more intimate connection from us runners? No corporates, no sponsorships, no pompous officials. A true bandit run for bandits! And to run WITH the Orang Asli."

"After discussions with our friend Alison Murugesu Ghani from the Orang Asli Outreach Learning Center Project, and having sought permission from the Village Elder, the trail is being recceed this coming Sunday. GPS coordinates will be recorded and a small group of pre-run volunteers the likes of Julie Wong, Irwan Annuar and Azhar Elmiza Ahmad will trek the trail conditions. We are confident that the trail will provide fair adventure, fresh forest air and fun for the family on the day. And most importantly, in the spirit of "Born To Run", the Temuan tribe will run with us, thus adding new runner friends to our ever-widening circle of like-minded freedom runners."

Karen Loh:
"Of course, some form of contribution will be sought. We trust you will allow us to mark a minimum amount but should you like to contribute more, it is wholeheartedly welcomed :-). The amount collected will go to helping out the Temuan village located at Kg Batu 16, Jalan Bentong Lama. And this is where we shall meet at the head of the trail. It is only a 15 mins drive from the Universiti Islam Antarabangsa at Gombak - though urban fringe but "delightfully pristine enough to feel in the wild" :-)

Julie Wong :
At somepoint, where there is some interaction with the orang asli who will be running with us, it will make us take an experience that we may not have had before. They may have their reservations and of course we will naturally not cross their personal boundaries. This is to respect their presence but this trail run is something we can start with to get to understand them better.

Irwan Anuar :-)
We have tentatively fixed the run for 3rd April. so STAY TUNED :-). More info will follow and the distance will be known very soon. We will wow you with the details! RUN WITH ORANG ASLI - THE TRAIL RUN

Come back for more details

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