Away from the rain and off to the east. East Bali that is, where although cloudy at times, we actually saw some sunshine. We were accompanying Tika, a young Indonesian friend, who with her husband runs an educational foundation in the poorest region of Bali, Karangasem. She and Gusti have jumped through all the necessary bureaucratic hoops to register the charity as an official non-profit body. We love that this small grass roots organisation is making a difference to children and families. Indonesian people helping their own. Just a few children, 26 this school year, but we are all hoping that by spreading the word, more people will come on board to support their work.
Where do the necessary funds come from? Certainly not the government although the fees to register were substantial and, rightly, to whom they are accountable. Currently just six of the 26 children (all ages from the very youngest through to vocational college) have sponsors, who pay the equivalent of $200 to finance a year’s education for a particular child. The rest comes from donations from friends and Gusti’s clients – he is a driver here on Bali – and from the sale of Tika’s art. In fact the couple put every spare note and coin they have back into the foundation often going without themselves to do so. They understand that education is the key to overcoming poverty and have dedicated themselves to this cause.
The 2017-18 school year commenced last week. All over Bali, children returned to school, many of them moving to new experiences in a different school after graduating from an earlier educational stage. Tika had work to do and we and a friend (and a puppy) went along to help.
We met her in Amlapura; she had gone ahead, her car loaded with 14 new backpacks, filled with supplies, for distribution in the region. First stop was SD Negeri 2 in Subagan, a lovely small elementary school. Waiting at the gate to greet us were all 80 children and teaching staff, the children even more excited when they realised that Cleo, a tiny new puppy had come along too.
Cleo joined us, the teachers, four children already in the program and two new little girls, just commencing school, their proud mothers looking on. End of the previous year reports were praised, the backpacks containing books, writing implements and school uniforms were distributed, photos taken then off to the small library. A donation of picture books from Australia was eagerly received, and there was just enough time for a story in English, translated by Tika as we read. This lovely little school is where ADI Rare Bhuana’s story began, but that is a story for another time perhaps.
Into Amlapura for some shopping. Money had been donated for a bicycle for one boy who was meeting us at Tika’s family compound. It was enough to buy the coolest bike in the shop. This young fellow had been a bit of a reluctant school attender, so his sponsor said that if he went to school and his end of year report was good, he would get a bike for the new school year. He ticked all the boxes and the promise was kept. He could hardly believe it and is now on track for future success.
Four more backpacks were ready and these and the bike were presented after a delicious meal prepared by Tika’s mother. Cleo meanwhile seemed to be growing before our eyes as she explored the compound and took a fancy to the grilled tuna that had been more than enough for all at lunch.
Final stop of a long day was at another family compound where reports were read, some advice given to a teenage boy who had discovered girls (‘get a smart girlfriend who can help you with your studies!’) and equipment distributed.
It is days like this that brings home the realisation of the difference that ADI Rare Bhuana is making. Any visitor to Bali will be most welcome to have a day in the villages just like this one. Just make contact and it can be done.
And after a busy day meeting new people and sniffing new smells, Cleo slept all the way back to Ubud. And the rain.