Thursday, September 16, 2010

A visit to the Bali Orphanage

Arriving in Bali, we made a call to Dewa who immediately confirmed “All good” I will come and collect you at 12 noon tomorrow.
The Bali Orphanage Welcome

We had checked into Kusnadi 2 days earlier and they gracefully allowed us to keep 3 enormous bulging bags behind the reception so we didn’t have to cart them around (thank goodness as so far they had requested we change rooms each of the 3 days we were staying there)

We departed Australia pretty close to our maximum luggage limit of 80kgs of checked baggage (of which approximately 6.5kgs was ours, the remainder for the orphanage).

The Bali Orphanage getting books
On board the flight I had read a story of a person who arrived in Bali with all the well wishes and a pile of clothing for the children only to be greeted by 20 of the most immaculately dressed children in need of seemingly nothing. Daryll & I had become a little concerned about “what if” with all the clothing, books, etc we had.
Rest assured our fears were unfounded.

Arriving we were welcomed and brought into a small room where some of the younger children had gathered, as school let out for a lunch break the older ones slowly filtered in too.

They each in turn went around and welcomed us, shaking our hands and saying ‘hello aunty / uncle’
They sat down quite reserved – all except one cheeky little boy who began ripping apart a face painting kit the previous visitors had left. He started bashing apart the lid and I had visions of him splattered in paint, the sister (nun) walked over and quietly took it from him, opened it up and gave it back, realizing it was basically a form of make up, he quickly lost interest of moved on to climbing all over the young girl next to him.

The Bali Orphanage singing songs
Gathering together, the children sang us many songs and although it seemed quite happy there is a funny thing that takes place once you become a parent. You immediately become moved to tears by the slightest thing children do. I looked around and noticed all the others visitors were holding back tears (well actually some weren’t holding back their tears, but they were trying to).

Although you tried not to, your mind turned to the thought that none of these children had parents that were able to look after them, not hold or comfort them (some have parents they see on the weekends, but cannot afford to keep them, hence they move to the orphanage).
I looked to my children who were only barely able to fully grasp this concept and observed they had rather melancholy expressions too.

The Bali Orphanage sharing Barbie Dolls
For our children, it was quite awakening at how little these children had and how polite they were.

Songs sung, they asked if we wanted to hand out the clothes & items brought or let them do it. Unsure as to what would be best, we said they were welcome to do as they liked.

The Bali Orphanage sister sharing out clothes
The sisters walked to the massive pile of clothes we had brought and sat down in a chair next to them. Picking up each piece one by one, they determined the child it would best fit and called them over, like it was Christmas each child raced over to collect their treasures.

I noticed some children clearly asking for items that were really too small for them, but wanting them so badly they just didn’t care how small they were.

We had some books on education, signed for them by the author which the sisters were thrilled to receive and Emma had taken some Barbie dolls to hand out.

The sisters asked who wanted them, several hands immediately shot up in the air and Emma handed them out, the girls faces lit up as they received a doll of their own and as a large pile of pop up books were placed on the table even the teenagers picked them up and played with the pop up pages.

Each child received a small pile of clothes and I noticed some quickly disappeared to their room. I thought they must be tired of dealing with tourists, however, they shortly reappeared proudly wearing their new treasures.

The Bali Orphanage making jewellery
We had brought many jewellery making supplies, thinking it may break the ice to share in a craft activity. I asked if the sisters would like me to leave them or they would like to make some jewellery now, the sisters asked the children and the room broke out in screams and squeals which we took as a resounding ‘yes, they would like to make some’.

We lay out a whole pile of beads and jewellery making supplies to show them how to make jewellery.
Usually in the classes I teach the kids sit around and pick up a bead at a time to make their jewellery. I guess I forgot they do not have the luxury most western children have of knowing there will always be more if you miss out now.

They swooped in and grabbed all they could before they missed out then scuttled away to corners to create their jewellery where others couldn't get their beads. The whole table was empty in a matter of seconds and then they all wanted help to make them.

Our kids just watched, pretty gob smacked by the process.

Each child delighted in making a treasured piece of jewellery and some just wanted to keep the beads.
Armed with bracelets and necklaces the lunch bell went and they all came shaking hands and saying thank you before rushing off to lunch.
The room was a little bit of a shambles, but nothing remained!

The boys beds were bigger and made of lovely looking wood, they shared with us their beds were a gift from Australia.

We visited a small broken patch of concrete proudly displaying a new basketball hoop they had been donated. Some murky fish ponds where they were growing fish for food and a small vegetable garden with some herbs.

Their play area was a section of concrete with a few swings and a prayer room, class room and dining room.
Entering during lunch the children were queued up receiving vegetables, rice and omelet. Emma asked me “do they HAVE to eat that?” when advised “well that is what they have, if they don’t eat it there’s nothing more” she asked to have a word in private outside.

Leaving the dining room, she whispered, all those girls sleep in 1 room with nothing in it, my bedroom is nearly that size filled with toys and things and I complain about it, they all eat what they are given and don’t have any other choices, I am so sorry mummy, from now on I will eat my veggies too”
Of course it remains to be seen if that lasts, but I took that as an amazing realization of others and her own privileged world.

We inquired as to what the orphanage really needed and they advised us they now have 1 washing machine, they said it is lovely when tourists come and donate things to the kids and we are always grateful for clothes and toys/books/stationary, however, many tourists do not realize it costs a great deal to educate each child. They explained how each child goes to school as soon as they are old enough and the fees are sometimes very difficult to manage.

They shared that it costs around 1,800,000rp to enrol a child (around US$180) and then up to 350,000rp per month (US$35)to continue with them.
They were explaining how enormous these fees were as if we could not possibly appreciate how expensive it was and I couldn’t help my thoughts turning to the cost of what we pay in the west to put our children through private schools and how 1 years fees, may be enough to educate almost all of the children in the orphanage.
They also explained that when the children are older and need to go to university to study, the fees are even higher, they delighted in how one of the older children currently has a sponsor and how wonderful it is that he can pursue his studies with this assistance.

I believe there are currently around 97 children living here.

We had taken up a donation from several people before we left allowing us to donate $300 to the orphanage which the sisters were delighted with. They asked us to give thanks to all those who assisted and express their gratitude.

The Bali Orphanage farewells
It was time to leave and we departed amongst smiles and waves and shouts of thank yous, back to our world of travel and holidays, swimming pools and milk shakes in restaurants for the children, it seems unfair in how many people’s lives intertwine in such varied outcomes, yet the words of a guru I lived with in India came back to haunt me, he had told me “the best thing you can do for the poor is never be one of them, that way you are able to assist and make the world a better place”.

Dewa drove us home (quietly), we filled up his car with petrol and thanked him for his efforts, he explained he also gets nothing out of the assistance he gives, yet felt he needed to establish a website with paypal account so someone could assist these children.

He says since doing this, many people visit and the good work the sisters do is becoming more noticed.

If you wish to assist – please contact Dewa at follow them on facebook and/or make a paypal donation (perhaps mention you were told about it from Lesley in Australia – it’s always nice for them to know what people’s connections are)

I hope you have enjoyed our visit and pictures.

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