“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
- Mother Teresa
We then realised by calling around our Balinese friends that many of the people we know from our community are spread out into the far corners of Bali. Some staying with extended family in Denpasar, others in the homes of other generous Balinese, while the majority are in refugee camps set-up in areas away from the risk of the volcanic eruption. So what can we do to help those in need?
We began by looking for the people we know that were evacuated to the furthest outposts of Bali. One family of farmers whom we know quite well were evacuated to a small village just west of Pemuteran on the north-west coast of Bali, only an hours drive from where we are now staying. We set out this morning hoping we could find them and check on their condition. We did find them... but what we found was not as we expected!
We sat and spoke with the family and asked our friend Komang (some of you may recognise her - second from the right, she works in the supermarket in Tulamben). What is it that you need that we can help you with? She told us that the local government and people in the village are donating food and water to them. But they have very little clothing, only a few mats to sleep on and no sheets or sorongs to cover themselves at night. They also requested exercise books & pens for the children, and school bags as many are starting at the local school tomorrow. Clothes for two small babies, clothes for children in the age range of three and upwards. Plus other things needed to make life more comfortable.
Our next move after realising the extent of their need, was the decision to set up a simple charity, where we can collect funds and distribute directly to these people without any expenses being added along the way. We are happy to spend our time purchasing and transporting goods to the camp at no charge. This way we know that 100% of funds raised are used to purchase what they actually need and gets directly given to them without anything passing through other peoples hands. They are located in a Government controlled camp, all goods bought inside are registered with the local government at the point of entry, and are recorded in a log along with who bought the donated goods in and at what monetary cost (all receipts are photographed).
We aren't asking for large sums of money, today we spent just Rp 1,080,000 (AUD$ 108) which purchased the following:
- Three Soccer Balls - Rp 30,000
- Ninety Exercise Books - Rp 174,000
- Bundle of Colored Pencils - Rp 55,000
- Three Large Tins of Biscuits - Rp 96,000
- Seven School Back Packs (medium size) - Rp 350,000
- Five School Back Packs (small) - Rp 375,000
- Four more School Back Packs (we purchased all that were available in the village)
- Clothes for Babies (two babies, one year old and 18 months old)
- Clothes for seventeen Children aged 3 years and up to 14 years
- Carpets/Mats for sleeping on
- Pillows for sleeping
- Pedestal Electric fans (two) for cooling sick people among them - the village will provide electric cable for them
- Sorongs/Sheet for cover when sleeping
- Around Twenty Towels for drying (after bathing under a bucket)
- Basic Toiletries & Washing Powder (soap/shampoo/tooth paste/tooth brush)
Any one who contributes funds we promise to provide copies of all documents as proof of the use of the money. That is copies of:
- Australian bank receipt
- Transfer and Receipt at our bank in Bali
- Withdraw Receipt from our bank in Bali
- Receipts for purchase of goods
- Receipt at official refugee post
As we left the camp today, one old lady was leaning on a wall crying and asking for her family, she had been seperated from them in the evacuation. She had just found out the rest of her family were now in Denpasar 120 kms away and with no way to get to them. Another even older lady lay asleep on the tiled floor next to us, without a pillow or floor mat. I know that as we go to bed tonight our thoughts will be with these people far away from their homes and without comfort. Lying waiting for their future to be dictated by the very mountain that they hold as sacred.
Jeff & Dawn Mullins - Singaraja, Bali 27th Sept 2017