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What it means to be selfless

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Timothy Cheah and Rajen Velu, social workers

SEMOA (Strategic Education Methods & Ongoing Advancement), Tras, Pahang

Timothy and Rajen’s first visit to an Orang Asli village in 1996 was an eye-opener. They were deeply moved by the living conditions and social problems they witnessed and resolved to help the Orang Asli, especially the children, have a better quality of life.

They founded SEMOA, an NGO engaged in a wide range of community projects including a food bank, free clinic, mobile handicraft shop and a platform to promote indigenous performing arts. However, its primary focus is on the educational development of indigenous people in Malaysia. To this end, they set up the Orang Asli Education Centre in Tras, Pahang. This centre is run like a boarding school where Orang Asli students, aged five to 17, from all over Malaysia, can live in a safe and structured environment while attending local schools.

Through the efforts of these two individuals and their supporters, hundreds of Orang Asli children have had access to a basic education. Their success to date have made them more ambitious as they have set their sights on tertiary education for their most promising protegees.

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