Gerai OA Turns 3!
The Gerai OA is celebrating its 3rd anniversary. Our nomadic, volunteer-run stall has been selling handicrafts made by the Orang Asal (OA), the indigenous minorities of Malaysia since October 2004.
Gerai OA's philosophy is to help indigenous communities help themselves. Every sale contributes towards the revitalization of the indigenous craft heritage of Malaysia. As it is volunteer-run and operates only at rent-free premises, 100% of sales monies goes directly back to the craftspeople.
Over the years, Gerai OA has been invited to various locations for sales. From our early days manning a once-a-month stall at the Laman Seni programme on the grounds of the National Art Gallery, to jumping between private and public functions at different hotels, educational institutions and art galleries, to nature camps in the forest. This year's round up was no different, except that in addition to sales, Gerai OA also extended its services to organizing workshops for and with various Orang Asal craftspeople.
In early June 2007, with encouragement and funding from the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP), Gerai OA organized a three day Pandanus Masterclass. Twenty four weavers from six Orang Asli ethnic groups and two indigenous weavers from the Philippines attended the workshop hosted by Kampung Chang Lama in Bidor, Perak.
Follow-up visits after the workshop showed positive results with the production of crafts constantly evolving and improving. As a result, Gerai OA now carries a wider variety of pandanus crafts with exciting new color schemes and of improved quality.
Besides technical workshops, the visibility of Gerai OA has also moved beyond national newspapers to exhibitions abroad. In mid 2007, the Keene State Archive featured an informative display on Gerai OA in display cases in the corridor leading to the reference section of the Mason Library.
In 2007, Gerai OA was also invited to conduct several public & private talks and workshops where we had the opportunity to conduct slide-show lectures and/or hands-on activities regarding the the Orang Asal and their varied crafts. These were not confined to the Klang Valley; generous sponsorship by the Miri branch of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and many others saw Gerai OA in Miri in late November 2007.
Yet we've not lost sight of our key mission which is to help OA communities via handicraft production. In 2007, several new OA communities and individuals joined our Gerai OA network. Many of the existing project sites have also improved production capabilities and now enjoy brisk business, not just from external sales but also within their own communities.
Gerai OA would not have been able to go so far without the support of its faithful team of volunteers and unwavering supporters. Numerous buyers are now subscribed to our info email, which informs them when and where the Gerai will be; some are also subscribed to our SMS alert.
Then there are our volunteers who help man the stall during sales, tag the crafts, transport crafts out of villages and many other mundane tasks which keeps Gerai OA going. We've also welcomed many buyers-turned-volunteers, and thank supporters who have helped Gerai OA to obtain a stall at their corporate or NGO events.
In celebration of our diverse indigenous cultures and the goodwill of Malaysians in support of their struggle, here's to a happy 3rd birthday to Gerai OA!
Gerai OA's wish list for 2008
Here are some items which are needed by many of the OA communities we work with. Only donations in kind are accepted. For used goods, please ensure that they are in presentable, usable condition.
All items received will be assessed then distributed in the various villages we work in within Peninsular Malaysia. However, as our storage space is exceedingly small, please email Reita at email@example.com or call (019) 751 8686 to see if we can accommodate your donations.
- School-related books & stationery;
- Children's books & toys;
- Clothes, especially children's clothes & sarongs;
- Footwear, blankets & umbrellas;
- Plastic storage containers, especially large lidded plastic containers;
- Household goods such as plates, jugs, cups & cutlery; and
- Cooking utensils especially kettles & cooking pots.
We also accept over-the-counter medical supplies. These can be of any brand or quantity but products must be new and at least one year prior to expiry. These include:
- Paracetamol for children (suspension or pill form)
- Anti-diarrheal preparations (Ultracarbon or Pil Chi-Kit/Poh Chai Yin)
- Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) sachets (plain or orange flavour)
- Antacids (chewable pill form - Hydrosil/Alucid)
- Roll adhesive plasters (1 inch)
- Plastic adhesive plasters/band-aids
- White open-weave (WOW) roll gauze - 1 inch or 2 inch width
- Antiseptic creams (tube form - Dettol/Savlon)
- Anti-fungal creams (tube form)
- Chinese medicated plasters ("koyok")
- Heat-rub ointments (tube form)
- Chinese medicated oils (Minyak Angin Kwan Loong/Cap Kapak)
- Medicated soaps (for fungal skin infections).
Stay in Touch with the Gerai OA
There is an info-email that keeps people updated on when and where the Gerai will be opening shop. If you wish to receive this info-email (aka "stalking the Gerai"), do drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org asking to, 'Stay in Touch with the Gerai OA'.
Volunteer at the Gerai OA
The Gerai OA is always looking for more volunteers to run the stall, pick up craft from kampungs, cut tags, etc. If you are interested in helping out, do let us know by dropping me an email at email@example.com saying, 'Put me on the volunteer spam list!'. The only requirement to volunteer is interest.
Written by: Reita Rahim & Puah Sze Ning