Royal Belum, one of deep forests which is located in Banjaran Titiwangsa, Perak River, Malaysia. This territory has been lived by the original ethnic called as SUKU JAHAI. Generally, suku Jahai occupies in the north part of Perak and Kelantan whereas a few of them stays in South Thailand.
They are isolated from the modernity but struggle to conserve and generate their own life styles even though there is acculturation among Malay, Communist and British that try to penetrate its barrier. They sit under small camp that is built by bamboo as wall and grass as a roof. They prefer to move around when one of their family members passed away.
They couldn’t speak Malay as well and some of them still wear a piece of clothes that is belted such as underwear. Suku Jahai don’t have a formal education since they lives so far away from the school. Only the raft boat, the transportation they use to move around. They have a difficulty to get a health care as well as possible. They just make herbals as their traditional medication. It might be hard for us that have been comfortable with available facilities, but in fact, Suku Jahai still able to survive with what they have.
Last year, on July 2009, Universiti Kuala lumpur-Royal College of Medicine Perak (UniKL-RCMP) had one of program which was called by KAMPONG ORANG ASLI (KAS) by conducting public services (medication and research) to Royal Belum Forest. This program had a mission to increase the quality of Suku Jahai Life by introducing them to the education, culture, art, religion, and health care. The team consisted of a collaboration between STUDENT AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT, GENERAL STUDY, MEDICAL PROGRAM and DIPLOMA IN PHARMACY PROGRAM.
I didn’t need waiting so long time to join this program. I loved a challenge that I can apply my knowledge and skills. This program was looked like a candle in darkness that open my heart and my logic what the things I could dedicate to human being. Might be I didn’t have enough money to help them, but my experience in PHARMACEUTICAL DISPENSING hopefully would be beneficial for them. Otherwise, I benefited that moment to do ETHNOMEDICINAL RESEARCH. Yeah… I can’t life without curiosity, trial, errors, challenge and problem solving.
OK guys, are you ready to follow my UNFORGETABLE ADVENTURE??? Come…come…come…
1st Destination (BANDING LAKE)
The team (12 members) with En. Norul Hilal as a leader, left Ipoh at 11 a.m. by driving cars and took 2 hours to reach Banding Lake (TASIK BANDING). We moved our goods and equipments from cars to a motor boat that will carry us to the location. It took about 1.5 hours.
Woww….the greatest natural views I ever had, water, jungle, birds, cloud. GOD, you are everything who can make the most miracle in the world. In the middle of trip we had to be checked by armies that monitored that area. It should be done since the communist has been trying to smugle inside.
2nd destination (TAMAN NEGERI ROYAL BELUM)
We chosen this wild park to build our camps. There were restricted water and electric supplied, we had to save water as well as possible. When the night fall, the mystery of Royal Belum Forest began. I heard the ‘song’ from uphill, its sounded like concert of wild life. Wow…exotic and heart pumping. Sometime, I heard a snake hiss also the sound of night bird. And at the mid night, suddenly, the ground was vibrating. My campmate told me, “it’s OK, THE STRONG PEOPLE move down to overcome their thirsty”.
In the morning, I went to the river, and found some big foot in the mud, and I knew, The Strong people was an ELEPHANT. What a fresh air I inhaled and what a cool water I streamed to peace my mind. After breakfast, we were ready going the KAMPONG ORANG ASLI
3rd Destination (KAMPONG ORANG ASLI SUNGAI KEJAR)
After we got that place, we tried to make gathering with SUKU JAHAI. We said hallo, introduced ourselves, and asked permission to run our program over there. Our goodness, they gave us GREEN LIGHT to start it as long as no vandalism done.
Our first program was interviewing some peoples about what they did to treat some diseases they had commonly. The interviewers in charge were Prof. Dr. Awang Iskandar (Veteriner), Assc. Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim (Medical Doctor), and me (I was a PHARMACIST in this case, he3x, NOT a CHEMIST). We collected data, what disesase they commonly had and what therapy they did.
The major case was skin infection such as fungal disease. Others were worm infection, respiratory tract disorders, diarrhea, yaah..the marginal disease. Look at this old man, he had a fungal disease diagnosted as TINEA VERSICOLOR. They told us using some herbs found out in the deep forest to treat their sickness. Here some herbs I collected from them :
- DAUN CEMRUI
Its herb leaves were used to treat cough. It has a bitter taste and grown up in the coral of deep jungle.
2. BUNGA PADMA (Raflesia arnoldi)
This giant flower was used to maintain woman who had postpartum. The petal was boiled with water and taken twice daily. The stem of this plant was used to treat backbone pain.
3. DAUN KETUNG
I knew this plant, in Indonesia we call DAUN KENTUT (Paederia tomentosa) because the smell is look like the gas bloating. Similar with the smell, this herbs were used to treat bloating.
4. AKAR LEHENG
I also was familiar with this root. In Indonesia, we call this as AKAR BERINGIN (Ficus benjamina). They cut the root and used it in common cold treatment.
5. KELADI KELAWUNG (Colocasia)
A few time ago, this plat was favorable to be the garden jewelry in Indonesia. In Jave, we call this ‘senthe ‘or ‘lompong’. The stem of leaves was used to treat h worm infection. The leaves can be cooked as vegetable to maintain the post partum woman.
6. DAUN SIRIH BERHALA (Piper crocatum)
In Indonesia, we call this as sirih merah. People used it by boiling with water and apply it to the affected area as antiseptic in conjunctivitis. Yah, the phenol constituent of this herb will inhibit bacterialgrowth.
7. GETAH AKAR AGUI
The latex of this root was used to treat scabies.
8. DAUN LAGUH
I knew this plant as Cotton (Kapas in Indonesia, Gossipium depuratum), but I never found that its leaves excreted redish oil. Suku jahai used it to heal the wounds and lose the celoid. It seemed like beta-naphthalene gossypol constituent act as anti-inflammatory and anticeloid agent.
structure of gossypol
9. DAUN SEREPUT TUNGUL
This herbs look merambat in the lereng of hill. People used it to reliefe allergic symptom like itching by applying to the affective area or using when they were showering.
10. DAUN CAMPAK TUNGUL
This leave was used to treat Small Pox (Campak).
I collected some herbs and make the HERBARIUM. I hope someday my collection will be useful to be explored more about its chemotaxonomy, screening phytochemistry, isolation and idendification of chemical constituents that were responsible to those above physiological effects. It opens a lot of chance in phytomedicinal research that can develop the traditional medication become formal one.
4th destination (Game…Game…Game)
We collected all kids to play some funny games. We also assisted them how to draw, colouring, and so many things that improves their psychomotor. I couldn’t say what peace my heart I am seeing them happy and forget their limitations.
5th Destination (Public Medication)
Here, I had to apply my knowledge and skill in Pharmaceutical Dispensing. Wow, I hadn’t done this in quite long time, but it must be!!! Even though I am major in Chemistry, but like or dislike I had to be responsible to the PHARMACIST title I had. Not bad, and I enjoyed my role here, he..he. I was compounding the prescription from Prof. Karim, dispensing and also counseling my patients. Hmmm….I was a really PHARMACIST, ha..ha..ha!!!
6th Destination (BREAK…BREAK..FOOD!!! FOOD!!!)
Even with the simple food, we were all happy together, thankfull to THE GOD that always prepared all the things we needed.
7th Destination (Its time to having fun)
8th Destination (Entertainment & closing ceremony)
9th Destination (Go back to Ipoh)
Simple people with simple thinking. Even they don’t know what is hand phone, facebook, twitter or other high technology, but they can survive and generate their original culture. Nature provide all the things they need; bird song, blooming flower, wind sound, blue sky, that make them happy forever. We have to learn from this that we have to thankful what we had today, and try to help unlucky people. Not always money or gold they need, just our caring to improve their quality of lifes as human being. Life is like a wheel, sometimes we up and another time we down. By caring them, we won’t be shocked when we found unexpected things. Lets we heal the world for a better place .
Hutan Royal Belum is seemed so beautiful when the sun wake up from sleeping but save a million MYSTERY that I am currious to open what is the behind of the scene. The rich of natural resources like herbs and ETHNOMEDICINE trigger me to explore it more & more…but nowadays, ROYAL BELUM IS STILL FULL OF MYSTERY…………