SIDS was set up by a group of women in Kuching in the 1950s. As a result of the rural-urban Iban migration, there were many groups of Iban women in Kuching. They came from different parts of Sarawak – Lundu, Lubok Anto, Betong and Simanggang. Naturally, there were a lot of regional differences, and this created a barrier for all the women groups amidst difficult times. Many of the rural immigrants had little education and adapting to a familiar environment of urban living was not easy. There was no common ground other than being an Iban community. Sarakup’s founder members realized that these Iban women needed to be trained to survive and to live in urban surrounding. Led by Madam Barbara Bay, they were determined to bring the different groups together with the aim of getting to know and help each other.

SIDS EXCO with founding President Madam Barbara Bay (seated 5th left)

Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak was formed in May 1957, a year after SDNU was established. Madam Barbara Bay was first elected President of the association. The association provided a forum for the women to discuss development strategies and identify courses of actions. Among one of the most important activities organized by the Sarakup was adult education where the women learned the basic knowledge like signing their names, reading numbers especially to assist them to identify bus numbers. Other earlier activities carried out were community services like visiting the sick, giving aid at funerals, and giving assistance to school children, all of  which are still carried out to this day. Sarakup also supplied First Aid Kits and medicine to members in the rural areas. Cultural activities like providing training for “Ngajat” and Iban weaving were carried out. At the same time, Sarakup worked hard to bring Iban women to become members of the new association. The activities of Sarakup soon spread to areas outside Kuching and educational topics widen to include hygiene, childcare and family planning.

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