Bali is well-known as a paradise for tourists and expatriates alike. Visitors come here to enjoy the tropical climate and culture against the backdrop of an awesome rice paddy and palm tree scenery. They have little contact with the local Balinese who don’t sell handicrafts or cultivate their field for the sake of a four star hotel’s view, and as a consequence tourists often are ignorant of the presence of real poverty on their vacation island.
Not so Michael Ludin. A US citizen living part of the year in Bali, he set up the Hope-foundation reaching out to marginalized children in the rural area north of Ubud. The foundation’s goal is similar to his other brainchild, the wishful thinking foundation that supports at risk children in greater LA on the opposite side of the globe. We inevitably found each other on the internet and arranged to stay on Bali supporting his Hope foundation. Sadly, Michael couldn’t make it himself because of medical misfortune, and many other volunteers had to cancel their trip.
We tried to make the best of it, and organized several projects at the foundation’s center.
Personal hygiene workshop
Together with a volunteering family, we did a personal hygiene workshop with the children, in which they learned how and when to brush their teeth and wash their hands. First, we did a little role-play. Kamiel slipped into a Balinese clown costume and was instructed how to wash his hands, and obviously he messed up in every possible way, getting the children to cheer and to laugh. Yeon was the little red germ, poking the goofy clown with a trident, and Rebecca Baker, daughter of the volunteering family, played the part of Dr. Clean rigorously instructing the clown about personal hygiene, and giving the children an unforgettable afternoon.
Painting a mural
On one of the walls, we let the children make handprints in four different colors. We got the idea from South Africa. They love it, and we can’t stop until there are far over a hundred handprints on the wall.
On another another wall, Yeon designs and paints a mural with the motives of a relevant to a children’s center. Pascalle, another volunteer at HOPE and by coincidence a painter herself, will paint the remaining walls.
Supporting a poor family
We also provide a very poor family with 50kg of rice and cooking oil. The father fell off a coconut palm four years ago resultting in complete paraphlegia.
Sadly, the company where he was working for didn’t take any responsibility even though they didn’t provide appropriate safety measures. His wife takes care of him, cleans him, feeds him. Project Hope initiated an income generating project and has built a pig pen, but sadly, many of the piglets died prematurely because of a stomach infection. The best alternative, we figure, was to crop something strong and yielding on the land, and for that we looked for suggestions with other organizations workin on the island.
Pascalle’s project: children growing crops
In order to decide what to crop on the family’s plot, we contact Daniel Elber from safe the children (zukunft-fuer-kinder.ch), a Swiss foundation working professionally in the empoverished Muntigunung area of Bali. He approaches the projects from the supply side, asking the numerous four star hotels on the island which products they need, then goes to an empoverished village and starts growing it. He has done so successfully with cashews, rosella tea, ginger. Also, he has installed rainwater catchment systems in many of the hill villages whose most urgent problem is water shortness. We are really impressed by his organizing talent, and equally grateful that he agrees to share his expertise with the hope foundation. HOPE will apply this best practice at the level of individual families, starting with the poor family we have visited. HOPE will connect them to a restaurant or organic shop for which they can then supply a specific crop. Pascalle also takes over this project, for which we are very thankful.
We plan to extend the library to increase the appetite for reading and studying among the children of the community. We also suggest introducing basic English and computer classes, since these are the skills most wanted, but the bottleneck seems to be a reliable input (throughput) of volunteers committing to HOPE. The cropping could be extended to other empoverished families thereby enabling their children to go to secondary school and even to university. For that, we plan to cooperate with NGOs specializing in scholarships.
We were really happy to be in the position to contribute to project HOPE