by Jia Ying Chia
Ruang Tamu Ekosistem recently held its first ever women-focused event titled ‘Sumandak Show’ with hundreds of attendees visiting the newly established arts community centre in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, to celebrate women across various fields particularly art and literature. “We want to showcase and celebrate women’s talents,” said Eppy from Ruang Tamu, adding that the programs designed for the event were meant to shed light on social issues such as stateless or undocumented children and women in leadership.
Sumandak is a Kadazandusun-based word that translates to ‘women’ in English. Attendees were treated to a theatre performance by students from the volunteer-run Sekolah Alternative Teluk Layang which provides education to at-risk and undocumented children from the Layang Besar community, took part in exciting workshops by Ruang Tamu members and a sharing session with Anne Balthazar, a prominent figure in the ANAK non-government organisation that focuses on children’s issues.
There were also plenty of musical performances by local artists to keep the atmosphere lively, and an adjoining art show featuring 22 women artists mostly from Borneo. According to Eppy, this is the first event of its kind for Ruang Tamu Ekosistem and she said that there was a “great chance” the Sumandak Show would happen annually in line with Women’s Month thanks to the positive reception and experiences had by everyone involved. “Since this event was also actively supported by male members of the community, inclusivity and collective understanding is the way forward for all.”