CAMERON HIGHLANDS, July 11 (Bernama) â€" As the convoy of cars meandered its way through the mountains from Raub to Kampung Leryar in Ringlet, Pahang, the journey seemed neither too long nor exhaustive.
How could it be? The fact is that everyone was feasting their eyes on the jungle, the thick foliage that lined both sides of the road. The greenery was soothing, the road well surfaced and the air fresh.
As we travelled up the road going to Cameron Highlands, our destination was the Orang Asli settlement of Kampung Leryar.
Upon reaching the settlement, we were greeted by a signboard which informed us that the settlement was part of a development programme under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.
We were there as part of a Treasure Hunt programme organised by Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad with a view to improve its relations with and gain the support of media practitioners.
Upon arriving at the settlement, which was a village, we were greeted by the Orang Asli villagers. â€œBeautiful!â€ a participant in our group exclaimed. Well, that summed up probably everyoneâ€™s first reaction.
There are a total of 86 Orang Asli families in the village, and many are involved in farming.
When the media personnel arrived at the village, a number of activities were going on, including a futsal game. The treasure hunt participants and the Orang Asli children also took part in futsal. Mural painting was one more activity organised at the village's community hall.
Bank Islam's staff was seen planting fruit trees as also flowering plants to beautify the village's landscape. The entire effort was Bank Islam's way of involving the media practitioners in a 'leisure-cum-charity' event.
TREASURE HUNT AND CHARITY WORK
Apart from answering questions related to the route from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands, the participants were also involved in Bank Islam's 'Corporate Responsibilityâ€™ (CR) activities held at Kampung Leryar. That was why the treasure hunt programme held with media practioners was named 'A Charity Drive For Nature'.
Bank Islam's Managing Director Datuk Seri Zukri Samat said the event gave media practitioners an opportunity to join the Bank Islam's CR programme and make meaningful contributions to Orang Asli settlement and the environment.
Such activities help Bank Islam to forge ties with the Orang Asli community.
At Kampung Leryar, media participants played futsal, painted a mural, danced the 'sewang' and learnt how to handle the blowpipe.
The bank's General Manager (Strategic Relations) Datuk Wan Ismail Wan Yusoh said Bank Islam has allocated close to RM40,000 for the well being of the Orang Asli community.
The bank, together with the media practitioners, also looked into the communityâ€™s daily essentials such as rice, sugar, soaps and other personal needs, including clothing.
Other activities included a question and answer session on religion, a handicrafts workshop and a telematch.
Several activities were conducted for the Orang Asli children, including a workshop on English language and a dental care session themed 'clean teeth, healthy life.â€™
The English language workshop was conducted by the language experts at the Bank Islam, while the handicrafts workshop was conducted by Institut Baitul-Mal. The religious ceramah â€˜Masih Ada Yang Sayangâ€™ and 'Bijak Agamaâ€™ session were conducted by Ustaz Mohamad Faiz Ibrahim, who is from Bank Islam's Shariah division.
Bank Islam also constructed a 'wakaf' (gazebo) and a toilet for the villagers and the visitors.
A CARING BANK
Bank Islamâ€™s entire effort in organising this extensive initiative was to let the community know how it wanted to be a caring and a responsible organisation that knows how to give back to the community.
â€œBy practising the concept of 'banking for all,â€™ Bank Islam is trying to operate in various ethnic environments and cultures to bring to them the pleasures and benefits of banking,â€ said Wan Ismail.
The Treasure Hunt was held in collaboration with Bernama, the National News Agency.
The event involved 160 participants in 40 cars, including representatives from various news organisations. They left Menara Bank Islam in Kuala Lumpur and travelled all the way to the Cameron Highlands.
Bernamaâ€™s General Manager Datuk Yong Soo Heng and Editor-in-Chief Datuk Zulkefli Salleh, together with Zukri and Wan Ismail, flagged off the participants.
Bernama's Deputy Editor-in-Chief Datuk Zakaria Wahab was present at the dinner that was held for the participants of the treasure hunt.
Also present were Bank Islam's senior officers, including Wan Ismail, Hizamuddin Jamalluddin (general manager for strategic planning) and Wan Norkhairi Wan Samad (senior manager for corporate communications and public relations).
One of the participants, Hakim Rahman, for whom it was a first visit to an Orang Asli village, said the event was an eye-opener. He said such activities help in enhancing relations between Bank Islam, the media personnel and Kampung Leryar Orang Asli.
â€œThis is the first time I had the opportunity of dancing the sewang. I had participated in several similar events before, but Bank Islam made a difference by involving both the media and the local community in making the event a success," explained Nurul Azwan Abdul Rahman.
The Tok Batin of Kampung Leryar Ahmad Abdullah thanked Bank Islam for the CR programme.
He, indeed, had a reason. For many of us in urban or semi-urban areas, hailing a taxi hardly counts among the blessings of life, but think of those who have to spend lives in isolation, perched on a hill.
â€œEarlier, we used to live on the hill, but later, we moved here. Everything was done with the government's assistance. We have many facilities, and now, our village is located next to the road, making our life easier. Now, we can hail a taxi quickly.
"We really appreciate the efforts undertaken by Bank Islam. I am happy that many people were present, including the media representatives,â€ he noted.
This was not the first time that Bank Islam had involved the media in its CR programmes.
During the treasure hunt in Melaka in 2011, participants planted 40 trees in the Sungai Udang recreational jungle and participated in 'gotong-royong' to clean the compound of PAYASUM orphanage.
In the 2012 treasure hunt from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan, media personnel were invited to the Tanjung Harapan House for the blind in Temerloh, and they donated sugar and cooking oil.
They also met underprivileged children and cleaned Pantai Taman Gelora.
Bank Islam wants to incorporate CR into its corporate culture in line with its continuous growth for 30 years.
It is time to learn from such initiatives as in an increasingly globalised world, corporates can play a key role in shouldering social responsibilities, just as Bank Islam showed with this treasure hunt.
RON ZUL INE RON