KUCHING: A group of volunteers have been going the extra mile to help the Penan community in Ulu Baram by providing health checks and haircuts, and installing solar panels.
Hope Place founder Kelvin Wan said he had noticed that the community needed more than just food items when he visited them in February to prepare for the “Giving Hope, Sharing Love” charity project.
“We went there to conduct a survey as we had to estimate how much food we needed to bring in,” he said.
“But, we later realised that the villagers need more than just food.
“Some of them had health issues and most of the houses didn’t have electricity and water supply.”
Wan said he started to raise funds and get sponsorships to buy solar panels when he returned from the trip.
Donations worth RM60,000 were collected, including solar panels, food items, toothpaste, toothbrushes, schoolbags and stationery for 60 Penan families in Long Slang, Long Ludin and Long Selulung.
More than 100 volunteers, including doctors, dentists and nurses from the Sarawak General Hospital and Sarawak Nursing Professional Association, pharmacists and hairdressers took part in the project.
The team also included volunteers from Sabah, the peninsula and Brunei.
They gathered in Miri before starting on a 10-hour-drive to Ulu Baram on Friday. They travelled in 35 four-wheel drive vehicles.
“Our schedule was tight,” he said.
“It was a three-day, two-night expedition but there was so much to do.
“We worked until late at night to install solar panels on the houses and two churches.”
He said they provided health screenings, dental services, haircuts and hair lice treatment to the kids.
“We showed the kids how to brush their teeth and encouraged them to make it a daily habit,” he said, adding that the women received new bras and panties, while second-hand clothes were distributed to the other villagers.
“Although it is just a one-off assistance, I hope what we did will improve their lives.
“For instance, with the solar panels, the kids can study at night and I hope they learn to take care of their health and personal hygiene.
“I will definitely come back whenever they need help.”
Besides its annual charity project, which reaches out to rural communities, the non-governmental organisation also provides assistance to more 200 families.
The majority are underprivileged aged couples and needy families with disabled members.
They receive food items and other necessities once every three months.
Those who wish to help can contact Hope Place’s hotline 013-567 2775 or 082- 505 987 from 8.30am to 5pm, from Monday to Saturday between 9am and noon.
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