Living with the Temiars gave me a new perspective on the world. I saw the possibility to live in peace without any kind of violence with our fellow human beings. During my time with the Temiars I did not witness a single form of violence. No parent hit their child, no husband hit their wife and no friend hit their foe. In addition to the absence of physical violence their was also a lack of mental torture, no forms of bullying occurred with the Temiars. Each Temiar treats each other with respect, dignity, equality and honesty. When arguments happened they are resolved through discussion and negotiation. If someone was hungry they were fed by their neighbors. If someone was homeless they were offered shelter by their kin, and if someone needed help it was offered freely and without obligation.
As a teenager I was treated as an adult, as an equal and adopted into the villages kinship network. I had new brothers, sisters, uncles and grandmothers, a whole new family that would care and support me. I was taught how to build houses from wood and bamboo without the need of nails or cement, how to carve a boat from the trunk of a tree, how to hunt in the jungle using a blow pipe and how to cook on logs without electricity. I was taught how to speak the Temiar language and how to sing and dance in the Temiar tradition. I was taught about healing and magic and spirits and guides, and how to love, care and respect all people, animals and our environment.
The Temiars showed me a new way of living and the possibilities and potential we have as people.
My life with the Temiars was not an idyllic holiday. Life in the Jungle can be tough. There is always work to be done whether it be hunting, cooking, building or traveling. One has to cope with scary insects, wild animals and an uncompromising nature - when it rains it really rains! Life for the Temiars is now even tougher. Many Temiars have been moved from their ancestral lands by the Malaysian government to poorer land. Once being surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest, many Temiar now have logging trucks continually rolling past their homes, their once clean rivers are now polluted with logging waste.
The Temiar way of life is not an outdated prehistoric way of life, rather it is a fresh new way of looking at the world, and one which we could all learn a lot from. The Temiars would happily give this knowledge to us. We can help them by pressurising the Malaysian authorities to give them equal rights, to give them back their ancestral lands, and to promote the Temiar way of life as a life worth living.
Andy and Temiar family