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Nomads of the Sea 35
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
15 Jan 2014

Dried fish hanging in the family boat. Bajau Laut dry fish to eat it later or to sell it in the market to earn money to buy other kinds of food.

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Nomads of the Sea 32
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
13 Jan 2014

Barisaya and her children Romi and Ina are waiting for Barisaya’s husband and father-in-law to come back from Semporna with fuel and food.

Romi and Ina are not attending school, but spend all of their time with the family on the boat. “My grandchildren started crying when we took them to school. They were afraid. So the best thing is just to stay on the boat and go fishing together,” Bungsali says. “Also, when we see tourists in Semporna, we send the kids to beg for money.”

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Nomads of the Sea 41
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
13 Jan 2014

Romi and Ina are eating noodles on the top of the boat, close to Semporna town, Malaysia.

Romi and Ina are not attending school, but spend all of their time with the family on the boat. “My grandchildren started crying when we took them to school. They were afraid. So the best is just to stay on the boat and go fishing together,” Bungsali says. “Also, when we see tourists in Semporna, we send kids to beg for money.”

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Nomads of the Sea 28
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
13 Jan 2014

The only time that Bungsali and his family venture on land is to get fresh water from the mountains, or to buy some food, fuel and cigarettes in the town.

Most Bajau are unaware of their age, have but one name and are unable to read or write. On top of this, many have no formal documents to speak of or know where they were born. No documents means no education nor health care; the Sama Dilaut are unable to live a regular life and continually face difficulties.

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Nomads of the Sea 30
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
12 Jan 2014

Bajau children are playing on Mabul island. Most of their parents are working in Semporna or other towns in Sabah and children are left alone or with their grandparents. It's seems that the island belongs to children as you can see them play everywhere.

In the evenings though, some of them attend a school for stateless children. A local teacher, Alee, established this school on Mabul island 5 years ago. In the beginning Alee had only 4 pupils, but now the number of students attending his lessons, which take place at 8pm ever night (except Thursday), has swollen to 80.

“It is very important for Bajau children to start learning, as this is the only way for them to get jobs in the future and make a living if they cannot fish anymore,” Alee explains.

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Nomads of the Sea 34
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
12 Jan 2014

Most Bajau lack official papers, and this means their children are unable to attend public schools.

Countless numbers of Bajau children are still without education, however, and while NGOs and other organisations are working on trying to get more Bajau Laut educated by encouraging their children to attend school, in the end it’s still their choice.

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Nomads of the Sea 46
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
12 Jan 2014

Bajau children are playing on Mabul island. Most of their parents are working in Semporna or other towns in Sabah and children are left alone or with their grandparents. It seems that the island belongs to children as you can see them play everywhere.

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Nomads of the Sea 51
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
12 Jan 2014

Agunnay family's house on Mabul island, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 52
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
12 Jan 2014

Agunnay, his wife Intanlasa and their children in the house in Mabul island, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 29
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
11 Jan 2014

Agunnay and his nephew at home in Mabul island, Malaysia. Agunnay has 5 sons and two daughters. It took two days for him to build the hut when they came here from the Philippines and decided to settle.

Agunnay not only built a small house for his family, but even got a wrist watch to look like a more modern man. “I have the watch, but I don’t know the numbers. So if I need to know the time, I go to my neighbours, show my watch and ask what the time is”.

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Nomads of the Sea 69
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
11 Jan 2014

Children are making small squid ink "bombs". Later they will be used by their parents for attracting tuna.

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Nomads of the Sea 31
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Agunnay is spearfishing in the shallow waters. Living in unity with the ocean allows the Bajau to develop extraordinary abilities to free dive. They can go as deep as 20 meters down to look for seafood. They also used to dive for pearls.

"When father took me to free dive for the first time, I didn’t know how to do it. He just showed me how to breathe and block my nose. Then he put a rope with some weights on me and drooped me into the ocean," explains Agunay.

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Nomads of the Sea 33
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

A Bajau woman and her children caught in the storm offshore Mabul island. They go around the island to sell fish for resorts or tourists and earn some money.

There might not be any Sama Dilaut living on boats left in the area in a few years. Only stories and legends about people from the Ocean will remain.

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Nomads of the Sea 42
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

A man selling sea food for tourists next to one of the resorts in Mabul island.

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Nomads of the Sea 43
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Bajau Laut are selling sea food for tourists next to one of the resorts in Mabul island.

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Nomads of the Sea 44
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Agunnay in his tiny boat, paddling out in to the ocean for spearfishing.

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Nomads of the Sea 47
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Teacher Alee during the lesson in School of Hope for stateless children in the island of Mabul, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 48
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Bajau Laut are selling sea food for tourists next to one of the resorts in Mabul island.

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Nomads of the Sea 49
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Bajau Laut are selling sea food for tourists next to one of the resorts in Mabul island.

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Nomads of the Sea 50
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Teacher Alee during a lesson in the School of Hope for stateless children in the island of Mabul, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 53
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Agunnay is coming back home in his boat after spearfishing in shallow waters not too far from Mabul island.

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Nomads of the Sea 54
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

School of Hope for stateless children in the island of Mabul, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 55
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

School of Hope for stateless children in the island of Mabul, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 65
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Bajau Laut selling fish next to a reasort on Mabul island.

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Nomads of the Sea 67
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
10 Jan 2014

Agunnay is preparing his speargun for spearfishing session.

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Nomads of the Sea 03
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

Clothes are hanged to dry on the shore of Sibuan island.

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Nomads of the Sea 70
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

People building a stilt house off the shore of Sibuan island.

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Nomads of the Sea 71
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

Bajau woman in the boat, near her small stilt house just right offshore Sibuan island, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 04
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

Bajau woman pours water away from her boat, near her small stilt house just right offshore Sibuan island, Malaysia.

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Nomads of the Sea 56
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

A view through the boat window offshore the Maiga island.

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Nomads of the Sea 60
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

A child crying in the dad's lap, in the boat offshore Maiga island.

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Nomads of the Sea 58
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

Woman washes dishes in the boat, floating close to Maiga island.

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Nomads of the Sea 59
Sabah, Malaysia
By Berta Tilmantaite
09 Jan 2014

A man coming back to his boat after fishing offshore Maiga island.