The nimble hands of Rozi Yunos and Wina Hafiza, accompanied by those with similar craftlike inclinations, have raised over $4,000 to Children Cancer Ward of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital – by stitching together hundreds of exquisite handmade journals and notebooks.
Make A Book initially began with classes – as their name literally implies – in bookbinding from a makeshift studio in Rozi’s home more than 10 years ago, but has evolved into a social enterprise with a renewed verve some four years ago, offering artisinal handcrafted books of a build and quality that would be comfortable in any souveneir shop or collector’s bookshelf.
Rozi, a graduate from Kent in book arts, returned to Brunei from UK in 2002 and began work in the government, but a few years later sought for something more: an avenue to build and pass on what she had learned at university to the Bruneian art community.
“We didn’t even think of selling (books) back then,” says Rozi, who set up shop for at a pop-up event for local vendors called craftworks kitani last weekend at the Mabohai Shopping Complex. “We just taught people how-to.”
Rozi would rope in her cousin and neighbour at the time, Wina Hafiza, an electrical engineer, to help her with the classes. Wina’s dexterity saw her pick up the skills quickly, and the duo struck up a fruitful parntership teaching hundreds how to construct their first handmade book.
The art scene was fledgling however, and after having her first kid, Rozi would take a break from Make A Book, althought she continued to practice in private.
“Art has always been a way for me to find myself,” says Rozi. “About four years ago, Brunei’s art scene really started showing signs of moving again. The collective was huge in pioneering this. Seeing everything they were doing really had us believing again.”
Most known for hosting creatively themed art fairs, Rozi and Wina decided to join the collective’s events as vendors to sell, their most fond being one for breast cancer at the Royal Brunei Recreational Club (RBRC).
“At the time we were donating a portion of whatever books we sold to different charities,” said Rozi, who at the time had lost an aunt to cancer. “After the event at RBRC, we knew we wanted to help those who had been suffering cancer. So one day, after connecting with a friend of a friend who was working at RIPAS, we asked if there was any way in which we could help out.”
To the duo’s surpirse, the RIPAS staff brought them around for a tour – stopping by the Children Cancer Ward.
“That’s when I knew who we really needed to help,” said Rozi, as she flips open a small card that’s attached with a golden string (pictured below) to every book whose proceeds are exclusively donated to the children’s ward.
“It might not be much,” she added. “But we must do our part to help. We don’t lose anything. In fact it gives what we do a deeper meaning.”
Follow @makeabookbrunei on Instagram to learn more or get in touch with Rozi directly at +6738720079 or Wina at +6738764958. Outside events, customers can either place an order or purchase an off the shelf product from Rozi’s house.