‘Everyone can now build a house’ seems to be the outcome of EPIC’s endeavour to gift the Orang Asli community with their own homes.
The deafening sound of the impact drill brought back memories of my neighbour’s renovation work which managed to wake me up every morning for two months. As a result, I had an aversion to the sound but today, I am the cause of that sound – and happily so. After all, I am helping to build a staircase for an indigenous house. Despite it being just a showhouse, the sense of accomplishment was worth all the backbreaking hard work, the tedium, and the hot sun.
Along with several others, among whom are CEOs, professionals, students, retired and other ‘respectable’ people, we are unwittingly blazing a trail to transform the image of the construction industry.
From a low-end job where Malaysians fastidiously thumb their nose at thus causing the migration of millions of foreign workers into the country, to a respectable blue collar job where craftsmen can be created and trained, this is the volunteer opportunity that has benefits lasting a lifetime.
“Yes, indeed, construction is sexy,” chuckles JohnSon Oei, CEO and Founder of EPIC Collective, a community-based volunteer organisation that strives at its core to build houses for the homeless and marginalised.
“It has been many years in the making,” Oei describes the long gestation period of his baby. Back in 2011, he and another co-founder wanted to do their part in building houses for the Orang Asli community (the indigenous people of Malaysia).