Native knowledge: Weaving is one of the skills that the learning centre will teach to Orang Asli children to ensure its preservation. Datuk Nicol David (left) tries her hand at weaving.

The Star: Indigenous lessons for UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nicol David
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nicol David visited an orang asli community to find out their needs.

By Lee Mei Li

Nicol’s field visit to Ulu Tual was meant to open up a platform for Malaysia’s bumiputera minorities to be heard.

This is Nicol’s second visit to a rural community in Malaysia since the squash champion’s appointment as the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in 2002. Her first was in 2008 when she visited Punan Bah in Sarawak.

“The villagers have been so warm and welcoming. They are so open and willing to learn. You can see that they’ve got so much potential and that if we were to just give them a little bit of support, they would then go the extra mile,” said Nicol.

Since January, the villagers had been hard at work building a community learning centre, with support from the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC). Named cenwey penaney (shoots of ingenuity), the centre is designed to appeal to the Semai children who will learn valuable skills and traditions that are relevant to their community, like basket-weaving and making hog and bird snares.

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Nicol David’s vlog:
My day with the Orang Asli


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