What values do we, who are lucky enough to live in wealthy, developed countries, stand for?

And... what can we do to make a difference in the lives of those who have nothing but values? Image

Our experience of living and working in the rainforests of Malaysia over the past decade has had a profound effect upon us. Bringing everything back to basics has made us re-evaluate what is really important in our lives.

As a result, we are very proud to announce that, along with the Grand Opening of Paul Penders eStore, we have instigated an innovative movement in Sarawak, Malaysia, called "Friendly Us Economics". We have "adopted" an entire village of 120 people, with a firm promise of ongoing support in the form of teaching new skills to enable them to become self-sufficient from their own plentiful produce. We do this in conjunction with village elders and local county members, so that the people themselves have the opportunity to control and govern their own needs, with the knowledge that they have the backup and support from Paul Penders. We are working principally with the ImageBidayuhs, a people originating from Polynesia, who are desperately poor but possess the happy spirit and cohesive structure of traditions that go back centuries. Their world is largely untouched by Western development and exploitation, which can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that an intuitive understanding of their unpolluted environment is preserved and a curse in that "undeveloped" often equates with poverty.

Among our partners in this exciting project are a senior lecturer of the University of Technology and his brother, a local county member. Both are of the Bidayuhs people. The Bidayuhs villages consist of bamboo pole houses scattered amongst the hillsides. These simple huts, which are isolaImageted and difficult to reach, have had partial road transport only made available in the last few years.

Similarly, electricity is only a recent innovation to the area, and the entire community derives its income from yachting, rice growing and herb farming. During the 1960's, missionaries brought basic educational skills to the region, but even today, few are able to obtain the skills that can then bring much needed expertise and support to the community. The signs of former headhunting activities by these people are still evident, and I was able to take pictures of skulls still hanging in the village meeting rooms. Thank heavens this practice has fallen out of favor!
For centuries, these people have relied solely on the gifts of the rainforest to cure their illnesses. It is only in recent years that modern medicine has been introduced into the isolated regions of this tropical greenhouse. I saw many villagers of advanced age in seemingly good health, and was introduced to Pudun Tanah, a bitter herb with a cleansing, energizing effect on the body. It leaves one feeling fit, sexually healthy and ready for the next hard day of work in the rice fields, under a hot, relentless sun.

Such a friendly and beautiful people, they were happy to show me their amazing river system, combining the cold, racing waters from the highlands with hot uprising spring water, to form an exhilarating and healing experience of hot and cold pleasure!

We have selected several natural ingredients native to the area, which we hope to incorporate into new products. Our mission is that the revenues gained in this enterprise will go straight to the Bidayuhs people.

On my last trip to the village, I bought locally made products at fair prices, which we are going to give away to our customers to celebrate the opening of our eStore. These products include books written in English by one of the few villagers with a university education, which tell of the history and challenging lives of these beautiful people. Coming soon as part of our "Friendly Us Economics" is an initiative which involves bringing visitors from the US, Japan and Europe to actually stay in the Bidayuhs community. There they will experience everyday aspects of village life, including cooking, eating, bathing and conversing with the friendly locals, all against the backdrop of stunning rainforest scenery.

ImageOur goals include the building of clinics, improvement of housing conditions and raising money for much needed education. In addition to the abovementioned gifts, for the next few months, 5% of all Paul Penders sales from the Internet revenues will be donated directly to the "Friendly Us Economics" movement. So with any purchase you then automatically help to support the Bidayuhs as well.... See for yourself what beautiful gifts we have waiting for you as we celebrate the opening of our new eStore. And by doing so, you personally will be contributing in a meaningful way to the wellbeing of these beautiful, gentle people.

How are we doing? Hope you enjoyed the first edition of our NewsLetter. We love to hear from you. Please send your comments to paul@paulpenders.com Thank you very much!

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