Thirty-two-year-old Jason Wee looks to have lived the gilded life. The Economics graduate spent two years at a popular, rather chichi college in Subang Jaya, before wrapping up his final two years in sun-drenched Hawaii. At various times in his life, Wee was employee No. 2 at Easy Taxi – growing the company to 100 members in under two years, and also a part of Food Panda and Rocket Internet. Plus he’s also the founder of Proofreading Panda.
Then he started volunteering to build homes for indigenous peoples in Serendah, Sungai Buloh, Hulu Kuang and Bukti Cheding. “The Orang Asli often wait years, even a lifetime, before they are provided a home. So imagine their faces when we build one in three days. It’s not only a roof and a dry floor to sleep on, but a space for their children to study as well,” he says.
Is this how you started The Asli Co.?
Getting to interact first hand and understanding their struggles led to that. Up to 50% of Orang Asli children drop out of school because their parents cannot afford to put two ringgit in their kids’ hands for canteen food, much less textbooks, stationery and uniforms. The average household income is RM800. If they’re lucky, the men get employed as lorry drivers or janitors earning RM1,200. So The Asli Co. was our way of helping mothers earn money from home to keep their children in school.
How do you help them earn from home?
We bring the work to them. First we made table top cement pots using bubble-tea cups as moulds. Then we provided the materials and skills to produce handmade soaps. And over this pandemic, these mothers have bottled hand sanitisers and disinfectants infused with essential oils. We’ve also bought sewing machines to produce masks. Depending on their proclivity, these Orang Asli women can make between RM50 to RM70 a day.
The Asli Co. comes from a heart of compassion. How can more Malaysians develop that?
Just remind yourself, it doesn’t take much to make a change in one person’s life. Be curious about social work by going on websites like Sedunia.me to find a cause that suits you. It can be incredibly rewarding for the soul.
Jason is using a denim jacket and jeans by Dior men; TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Automatic Chronograph 44mm in fine-brushed, polished stainless steel with ceramic bezel, blue dial and steel bracelet