Penan Settlement Visit | 22-24sept2017
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
A lot of us associate the Penans with their fight to protect their land from the savage of timber and palm oil companies, the blockade erected to block these companies and with the late Bruno Manser. Here we present to you the plight of the Penans stripped bare from all the poms of media-attention and headlines. Relaying their actual day-to-day need and their cry for help and why we visited the Penan villages on 22nd September 2017.
Report: Report of activities by groups of volunteers from Penan Women Project,
International Medical University and Volunteers from Shell Brunei
3 Days 2 Nights
This project is a collaborative project between
Penan Women Project, International Medical University and Sarawak State Health Department.
Villages visited: Long Kevok, Long Meraan, Long Selulong and Long Siang
IMU : Dr Ivan K. S. Yap, Dr Stephen Ngo, Kho Mee Teck, Jocelyn Teh, Sharon Ding,
PWP : Ann Wong, Winston K. H. Yap, Lim Beng Guan, Helmi Ramlan & Sandra (Netherlands)
Voluntary 4x4 : Miri : Niels de Pril Brunei: Jonathan Corcutt, Darren Kilbride , Joshua Gossanyi & Mark Easterbrook.
Hired 4x4 : Tan Wei Kheng & Jonathan Atan
The team, consisting of a doctor, a pharmacist, three researchers, 5 volunteers of the Penan Women’s Project, our lead drivers and five voluntary 4x4 from Miri & Brunei to help bringing in rations & preloved clothing collected from public departed Miri at 6.30 am.
22nd September 2017, Friday.
We reached Long Lama at 9 am. An hour after breakfast, we left Long Lama for Long Siang keeping our fingers crossed that the Tutoh Bridge will be completed by the time we reached there. It was raining the night before and the timber road to the bridge was muddy. Our first target village was Long Siang.
To our dismay the bridge was not completed by the time we were there at 2 pm. Our plan B was to detour to Long Kevok with a promise by the bridge foreman that the bridge will be ready before nightfall. We reached Long Kevok at 2.30 pm. The doctor and health screening team started their work at 3 pm with the help of the Medical Assistant in Long Kevok Mr Alex and SK Long Kevok school teacher Mr Garfield. The screening activity lasted for 2 hours. The team collected thick and thin blood smear, faecal and urine samples from 33 participants. There were a few cases of hair lice amongst school children and they were given permethrin. The team left Long Kevok with the news that the Tutoh Bridge was finally operational.
We reached Long Siang at around 9.30 pm due to an electrical fire in the vehicle’s engine. The vehicle was fixed on the spot nevertheless by our volunteer from Brunei. Hooray!
23rd September 2017, Saturday.
The health screening team set up booth at Long Siang by 9 am and at the same time the Penan Women Project group (PWP) was distributing rations and simple first aid kits with basic medical supply for 12 families and additional two families came all the way from Ba Marong which was a good half day walk or 2hrs motor ride on logging road. The health screening team collected thick and thin blood smear, faecal and urine samples from 20 participants. All villagers present were given a single dose anthelmintic. A patient with hepatosplenomegaly was reported to the team and we made the plan to send him to Miri General Hospital for a CT scan on our way to Miri the next day.
Lunch was bread on the go as the team set off from Long Siang at 11.20 am arriving at our next planned village of Ba Selulong at 11.45 am. The screening booth was up by 12 noon. The health screening team collected thick and thin blood smear, faecal and urine samples from six participants. All villagers present were given a single dose anthelmintic. PWP distribute rations, first aid kits, preloved clothing to 24 families and a boxful of wound cares for their village use. We left Ba Selulong at 1.45 pm heading towards our last planned village of Long Meraan. The team arrived at 2.50 pm and made it across the suspension bridge by 3.30 pm. The screening team set up booth at the church compound at 4 pm but reception was poor because most villagers were out in the field working. The team decided to call it a day by 5 pm. We went for a swim and relax at the beautiful river by the village. At night we mingle with the local to find out more about their village and a good chat session with our foreigner volunteers to understand more about Sarawak. On behalf of PWP our 4x4 drivers send rations and clothing to Long Lesuan ( 7-9 families) while we over night at Long Meraan.
The team was up by 6.30 am , after a quick simple breakfast, the screening booth was up by 7.30 am. The health screening team collected thick and thin blood smear, faecal and urine samples from 24 participants. All villagers present were given a single dose anthelmintic. The Penan Women Project distributed rations and first aid kits to all the 33 families in Long Meraan and a boxful of wound cares to the Chief for their village use. The team bid farewell to the village Chief and residents of Long Meraan at 10 am. Driving towards Long Siang to pick up the patient for his CT scan in Miri General Hospital. The team arrived at Long Lama by 2 pm and subsequently at Miri by 6.30 pm. The screening team proceed to prepare urine and faecal samples until 11.30 pm with an hour dinner break in between.
The trip went well and was successful. The team worked well together and were dedicated. We are planning for the next trip and will be aiming for villages that are less accessible. Additional support in terms of medical expertise and resources will be needed. A more wide ranging medication and health care including dental care will be needed for the next trip.