KOTA KINABALU: Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa recently successfully brought together Sabah indigenous handcrafters and local artisans to create a Sabah handicraft market for a corporate event for Genesys (www.genesys.com), the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact centre solutions.
Permanent Secretary of the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry Sabah, William Baya was present to witness this event, which had nearly 600 international Genesys delegates in attendance.
“We believe this is the first MICE initiative of its kind in Sabah where an international organization is actively involved in supporting the improvement of livelihoods.
“The Sustainable Development Goals form an important part in their CSR initiative, while also guiding our actions in contributing positively to the community.
“We are grateful to see the passion and determination from Genesys in supporting this community outreach program that aims to help improve the livelihood of the local community.
“There is a lot we can accomplish together, and this initiative is a clear example of actions that can support the indigenous communities of Sabah,” said Fiona Hagan, general manager of the resort.
“Every little effort to support our indigenous craftsmen goes a long way.
“We are fortunate to be in partnership with the PACOS Trust that helped us in putting together this indigenous community market. We believe it is important for organizations to help support communities positively and at Rasa Ria we will continue to do so,” she added.
The handicrafts came from the different Community Learning Centres (CLC), located in a few villages along the West coast of Sabah.
Some of these villages have a small population of 200 to 1000, and are from the indigenous tribes of Dusun, Rungus, Lundayeh and Murut.
To the community, handicraft making is an additional source of livelihood apart from farming.
PACOS Trust has supported these communities from its inception 25 years ago.
PACOS started the CLC with the mission to help the indigenous communities become self-sustaining.
Through this event at Rasa Ria, an income of RM157,000 (USD 39.5k) was generated for the local community.
Prior to their arrival, Genesys also purchased locally made bamboo straws and Sabah bead wristbands as welcome gifts for all the delegates.
One of the featured handicrafts is a woven bag with a motif from the Rungus tribe called “Kinoriki” or hand-stitched patterns from Liu Pitas, a small village in northern Sabah with 67 families.
This rich heritage of delicate embroidery skill passed down from their ancestors, features different patterns such as plants, animals and humans. Bag weaving is the only source of income for the women in this community.
In addition to the craftsmen, food vendors from Tuaran were able to showcase Sabah’s delectable delights such as the ‘kuih penjaram’, ‘roti jala’ and the popular barbecued chicken wings in traditionally decorated stalls.
Genesys president Tom Eggeimier said the trip was an annual affair for the software company of about 6,000 employees.
“Every year, 300 employees are selected for such trips and each of them are allowed to bring another person along to travel with them.
“We chose Sabah as we try as much as we could to go to places Americans rarely go … we can go back home and promote the place to others as well.
“And during such trips, we will do charity works as well where we give back to the community apart from offering new cultural experiences for the attendees,” he said.
Also present was deputy general manager of Sabah Tourism Board, Noredah Othman.