People of the Forest

Finding and Fighting Fires
May 7, 2014
Social Impact
March 23, 2018

THE ORANG RIMBA, also known as People of the Forest, are an ethnic and religious minority indigenous to the Jambi Province forests. Oil palm farming has shrunken their ancestral lands and today they have nowhere to go. The Orang Rimba live in nomadic conditions and they suffer greatly from episodes of peat haze pollution.

RUDI SYAF→ We can close the ventilation, we can close the windows. We can use an air conditioner, but the houses of the Orang Rimba, the People of the Forest, have no walls. They are in the open and full of haze, it's like living outdoors. We recorded the deaths of a few Orang Rimba during the five month hazy period.

We think that this is all related. There is a relation between the lethal diseases and the haze, which causes people to get sick easier and some of them die.

THE ORANG RIMBA PRACTICALLY LIVE OUTDOORS AS THEIR HOMES HAVE NO WALLS.
THEY ARE VULNERABLE TO THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF HAZE.

We interviewed Gunawan, one of the clan leaders. He says: At night it felt like a cold turning into a fever. But later there was no fever, only trembling, a trembling feeling at night, during the dry haze season. That is how it felt. Many got sick, some even died. We didn't have any shelter, just houses like these. During the haze period we never got any help from the government or anyone else. It was very difficult for those who got sick.

We also interviewed Kudung, a young Rimba father with a growing family. Sadly he lost two relatives during a recent episode of intense peat haze pollution, he shares: First she was healthy then she suddenly got sick. Then all of a sudden three days later my mother in law was also dead. My baby got fever for about a week, then she died.

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