Solar-powered lights are breaking through the darkness in Kampung Aur, a village nestled deep in the Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia’s Pahang state and accessible only by boat.
The Orang Asli Batek who live in the village survive by hunting and gathering what they need from the jungle. They say they’re seeing loggers and plantations invade the region, forcing them to change their lifestyle.
Along with the new lights, which the villagers received in August, the tribe is focused on finding other ways to survive, including tourism, while prioritizing education for their children.
Menderu, Kampung Aur’s leader, said the electric lights – rechargeable LED lamps powered by solar panels – are safer than the oil lamps they had been using. Architecture firm Veritas Design Group, construction firm Haskell Malaysia and Lewis and Clark College in the United States sponsored the lamps for the village.
Last year, Kampung Dedari, a village near Kampung Aur, received similar lamps and has since opened jungle huts to attract tourists.