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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 -- Since May last year, the COVID-19 Collective for Orang Asli has helped 5,585 Orang Asli families in six states through a RM1 million grant from Z Zurich Foundation.
The money, channelled through Epic Society, is being utilised in six focus areas: food aid and hygiene kits, health and hygiene awareness, education, food security, socioeconomic empowerment, as well as relief and recovery grants.
In a joint statement, Epic Society and Zurich Malaysia said that the COVID-19 Collective for Orang Asli is a two-pronged relief and recovery programme helping 78 villages.
“Relief activities began in May 2020 and following that, a basic healthcare and medical assistance programme was implemented to improve health literacy levels among the Orang Asli,” the statement said.
It said the programme featured hand cleanliness education for children, medical camps and COVID-19 awareness workshops.
The setting up of a chicken farm in Selangor and 10 chicken coops in Johor, as well as teaching the Orang Asli how to manage them, was among the objectives to encourage sustainable development by diversifying their source of income or expanding their existing small business, the statement added.
Zurich Holdings Malaysia Bhd executive director, Stephen Clark, said that 30 per cent of the grant has been spent on food aid and hygiene kits, while the balance will be channelled towards socioeconomic empowerment.
“We are certain our combined determination to support socioeconomic progress among the Orang Asli will generate a positive outcome for the community's resilience during the pandemic and thereafter,” he added.
Meanwhile, Epic Society president, John-Son Oei, said that the COVID-19 Collective for Orang Asli’s other initiatives include setting up a community learning hub and installing a rainwater harvesting system.