After our 2004 visit to the orphanage, Panti Asuhan Alas Kasih, in the town of Negara on the south west coast of Bali, the terrible conditions under which these kids lived continued to trouble us. Eventually brain cells flashed and a plan came slowly into being. While we were still going to have a holiday the next time we went to Bali we were going to ease our consciences a bit too.
The fact that the kids owned nothing except perhaps the space their little bodies occupied started us on the path of considering semi-permanent gifts for each of them. The gifts needed to be equal so there was no divisiveness but not identical, so that by appearance alone even the smallest and youngest would be able to identify their little possession.
Their health, cleanliness and appearance concerned us a bit when we noticed decayed teeth, grubby little boys and older girls combing things out of their hair.
We have since found out that we need not have worried quite so much as others more 'on the spot' than us were already intervening in the kids situations, but what we saw decided us on little bags which we could fill with toiletry articles; soap and a soap holder, shampoo, a brush or comb, tooth brush and tooth paste, face washers and a small mirror for the girls.
The 'every one visually different' problem we decided to solve by an appeal to readers of the Bali Travel Forum (www.balitravelforum.com) and a short explanation with the appeal. The post drew such a response that I was threatened with banishment from the site unless I could keep things under control. Promises of bags and even some contents and cash to help with the excess freight we would be charged were all the encouragement we needed and by the time we left in August '05 we had 362 bags, all hand made with obvious love and care - and all visually different in bag colours and cloths as well as in decorations with buttons, bows, braid, ribbons, embroidery and a number of other tricks including hand drawings by the children of St Josephs school in South Australia.
As I write this at the end of August we have filled and distributed 130 bags to orphans and old folks in Bali and there are still bags being promised although we have enough stock left to do it all again on our next trip.
As an offshoot from the Forum appeal friends heard of our plans and through the Police we not only got bags but boxes of knitted teddy bears and dolls. These proved to be even more appealing to the children of all ages, even up to boys in their late teens, though perhaps from our obviously limited perspective they did not have the same basic practicality as the bags and their contents.
Another offshoot was the decision by others to copy the idea for the children of other orphanages which they supported in Bali and Indonesia.
We get a warm feeling now when we look back on what has happened and we have a determination to do it all again, and to encourage others to follow the same path, either overseas or around the corner from home. Next trip will see the distribution of the remaining bags (we have discovered another orphanage in the north of Bali which we can help) and the new project will be pillow cases - hand made or bought, preferably not white but in bright colours with a button or a bow or ribbon stitched into or onto them as an identifier.
If you'd like to share in our feelings dive into the scrap box or the local store and post the results to:
C/- 194 Holbrooks Road
The following links (in light blue) will take you to photos of the different parts of our July '05 holiday which we'd like to share with you. Just click on them.
Links marked with a double red asterisk (**) are from our second holiday in December of 2005. Again just click on the light blue link words to go straight to that page.
Click the back button to return to this page if you want to make another selection.
** 1A. More in and around the Sinar Bali hotel which we enjoy as a simple but good value place right in the heart of Legian.
2. Familiar ground around Tuban, the beaches, our friends, flowers from the Balihai and beads - You want beads mister???.
** More of the Balihai and Pantai beaches and our friends, Christmas decorations, the new Adelaide Airport.
3. The bag run to Negara. These are photos of all of the Negara orphans with their toiletry bags and their Teddy Bears. We hope you can find one of yours here.
3a. Other photos of the Negara orphanage covering both the kids and the facilities and conditions as we found them in August 2005.
** 4A. The second Singaraja orphanage trip. The kids and their bags.
5. Panti Asuhan Al Islam, a Muslim orphanage in Denpasar. More kids and more bags.
6. Pacung and Bedugul in the central mountains of Bali.
** Ubud again, the drains, the Palace Kids gamelan, dance in 1979. Cisa Xmas and friends.
8. Families and friends in Seminyak and Tuban as well as Cokorda's Palace, rice farming, some sunsets and cats and dogs.
** More friends and their families including the 3 month ceremony, Christmas decorations at the Balihai and elsewhere, Crackers glorious Crapper, Haaris and Nina, and some Bali scenes that caught my eye.
9. Flowers. Just a single place where all of the flower photos from our holiday are gathered together.
10. Things that we want to remember about eating in 2005.