About The Speaker
The Orang Asli have increasingly been looked upon as mere recipients of aid. But working with various groups of Orang Asli here in Peninsular Malaysia and indigenous groups in East Malaysia gives Gerai OA volunteers a different perspective. Although we’re focused on indigenous heritage crafts, our work is intertwined with various common issues these communities face including deforestation, loss of traditional territories, health & educational crises. We’ll also touch on how Orang Asli communities have led efforts to keep their heritage alive, and why their cultural survival makes economic sense. About Reita Reita Rahim graduated as a Graphic Designer in 1997 but soon found her calling with handicrafts, especially those made by the Orang Asal, the indigenous minorities of Malaysia. In 2004, she founded and currently coordinates “Gerai OA”, a volunteer-run initiative which helps document, revive, repurpose & market indigenous handicrafts of Malaysia, with 100% of sales returned to the artisan. She has presented several academic papers and published booklets on traditional knowledge & indigenous crafts including on beads and pandanus weaving. Although now a freelance craft researcher, her focus has always been on training indigenous women to improve heritage crafts via colour management & quality controls. She also occasionally works as a trainer for the handicraft component of rural development projects run by government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international agencies. She’s also helped organise several village-level indigenous women’s groups to improve their income-generating skills.