Today we were reminded of the fragility of life for Balinese people living in the remote villages of north-east Bali.
At daybreak we joined a small family procession to our village high temple (Pura Puseh). Towering above us, Mount Agung glowed brighter than normal at sunrise, as today the Gods would descend and take the spirits of our young friend's wife and his unborn baby boy.
In the west we often take hospital care, doctors, nurses and specialists for granted. We expect the best care available for our wives, babies, children and ourselves, because it is accessible and we can (mostly) afford it.
Wayan was 20 years old when she married and later that year fell pregnant, her husband cared for her as well as any husband would. But when the birth day arrived, she was wisked away to the nearest hospital facility an hour away by car. During her labour she was struck with an asthma attack and stopped breathing. Sadly she passed away and subsequently their unborn baby boy also died still in his mother's womb.
Few people who come to dive here in north east Bali are aware that this area, (the furthest point from Denpasar in either direction) has the highest infant mortality rate in South-East Asia.
More mothers die in north Bali during child birth or pregnancy than in Libya, Iraq or Botswana!
The hospitals are few and far between, and the medical equipment they have is limited and mostly outdated. Getting trained medical staff is difficult, as few want to work in remote areas.
Today we witnessed Wayan and her baby son's spirits ascend to heaven. As the family placed offerings on the altars and the priest finished praying. Clouds soon began forming around the holy mountain's peak. Within half an hour the mountain was concealed by clouds and remained out of view for the rest of the day.
Please spare a thought when you are in these parts, perhaps bargaining for a cheaper dive guide, transport driver or room at your locally run dive resort. These people mostly do it tough, and all of them know how to make every rupiah count. One day....we hope, they may have the luxury of a hospital with modern equipment and well trained medical staff.
Om Swastiastu Wayan dan anda Bayi
(Peace Be With You Wayan & your Baby)