The organization aims to engage and empower indigenous people through many ways and in accordance to our vision. Here are some of our impact on the community.
“PACOS Trust would like to see peaceful indigenous communities; united and well equipped with the knowledge and expertise to manage their resources and opportunities to support a comfortable life.”
– PACOS Trust’s vision
PACOS Trust undertakes a wide range of initiatives focused on having a positive impact on the local communities where we live and work. While we aim to engage and empower indigenous peoples in matters of protecting their identities, lands, culture and traditions, the organization also acts as a bridge between the communities and government, as well as local and international bodies that highlight issues especially related to indigenous peoples in Sabah.
Some of our impacts in communities include:
ASSISTING IN THE BUILDING OF COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTRES (CLC)
The Community Learning Centres are primarily set up upon the request of the villagers who see the benefit and need to have a CLC in their own village. The organization’s role is to help design and develop the CLC while it is the villagers’ main task to ensure its completion, maintenance and full usage.
There are approximately 28 Community Learning Centres (though only 22 active ones within the PACOS network) throughout Sabah and Sarawak ever since the project was initiated by PACOS Trust in 1993 with the aim to introduce community kindergartens (where teachers and students are the villagers themselves) to villages which do not have their own pre-schools. Today, many of the CLCs act not only act as kindergartens, but also as a libraries and centres for community engagements and activities such as talks, village meetings, workshops, relief centres and much more.
INTRODUCING TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE TO CHILDREN
Community kindergartens that are set up at the request of villagers strictly follow the guidelines and syllabus of the Ministry of Education Malaysia (MOE). Basic training is given to individuals within each community who then become teachers in the schools. Though the kindergartens follow the MOE syllabus, a special curriculum that aims to educate the children in their community’s traditional knowledge (TK) is also introduced and improved in accordance with the needs and aspirations of the community.
The TK programme touches on many topics including local languages, traditional farming and agriculture methods, traditional music and musical instruments, cultural taboos as well as resource management knowledge of the different indigenous communities. The TK subject matter is gathered collectively with the help of parents of the children as well as elders within the community.
The community is involved heavily in the school programmes, which is an important aspect of training and support for the development and early education of the children.
To date, the community kindergartens have proudly graduated over 3,000 students since the project’s inception, many of whom are currently pursuing their education in local colleges and universities throughout Malaysia.
BUILDING COMMUNITY CAPACITY
The aim of community capacity building is to increase and encourage sustainable socio-economic growth within communities. Upon the request of communities who wish to increase and develop their socio-economy within their community, PACOS tailor-makes specific community capacity building programmes for them which include various topics such as improving leadership skills as well as agricultural and entrepreneurial skills.
In addition, PACOS also assists communities by providing them with seed money to start their businesses and regularly assesses their development.
The main reason for encouraging communities to engage in socio-economic growth is that they will achieve self-reliance and become more economically independent.
MANAGING COMMUNITY-BASED NATURAL RESOURCES
Natural resources are crucial for the survival of indigenous peoples. As towns and cities are far from their reach, communities, especially those living in the rural areas of Sabah, depend on nature for food and medicinal resources. Therefore, sustainability of natural resources is of primary importance.
PACOS Trust encourages communities to actively manage their own natural resources and educates them on the various ways of achieving sustainability. The organization teaches the community new skills including the tagal (fish conservation) system and planting traditional herb gardens. Through training and education, communities not only feel empowered in managing sustainable natural resources for themselves, but are also able to keep their traditional ancestral lands and water clean and safe.
CREATING JOBS FOR WOMEN
Through the community capacity building segment of the socio-economic programme, the community themselves can generate their own income to sustain themselves. Women are especially encouraged to participate in generating economic growth within their communities in various ways including selling local handicrafts, fruits and vegetables, traditional plants, traditionally-woven mats and many more.
Empowering and encouraging women to participate in socio-economic growth not only encourages them to play an active part in generating income for their community, but also helps them to support their own families to get out of poverty.
EDUCATING COMMUNITIES ON INDIGENOUS RIGHTS
Roadshows are conducted in various districts and villages within Sabah in order to raise awareness of indigenous peoples’ rights as well as basic human rights in accordance with the United Nations Human Rights Charter. Important topics such as land rights, preservation of traditional knowledge, culture and traditions, natural resource sustainability as well as various other issues and concerns that are of importance to indigenous peoples are openly discussed.
Important speakers such as lawyers, activists and government officials are invited to meet with communities in order to encourage and harness healthy discussions, especially on topics concerning the indigenous peoples.