It has been an emotional week for us. We’ve seen help brought to people close to our hearts and opened our own for a community of brave women. All the while witnessing and hearing of the increasing need for help.
Here are a few of the stories that particularly touched us.
Bali Street Kids
We visited the Bali Street Kids centre in Denpasar after receiving a call from Piter at Balilife Foundation. Balilife runs the centre to help women learn skills and work in small business cooperatives to generate income. By looking after the mothers, you take care of the children and keep them all off the street.
It's important to understand that these women look at begging as ‘work’ - it has been all they know. This is the work they do to care for the children they love, just as you and I would do any work we needed to provide for our kids. However once this cycle begins, it’s very difficult to jump off. The children beg with their mothers while they are cute enough to attract donations. But the kids progress through what is known as ’the sympathy age’ of early teens and lose their value; no longer doe-eyed and tearing at our hearts, they don’t attract the attention of donors. This is when the cycle kicks off again: the boys get involved in gangs, the girls fall pregnant and they all end up back on the streets.
The risk now is different. Balilife has supported these mothers through the transition of becoming skilled in other work. They commune at the Centre where they tend to a vegetable garden they have planted, the kids are safe and cared for, schooling is provided and the mothers produce orders of textiles and embroidery. But the orders have now stopped. The obvious choice they face is to return to their default work and go back to the streets with their kids. What awaits them there is worse. There are no tourists here to hand out money. Danger is increased. Piter faces the likelihood of the centre having to become a homeless shelter in the very near future.
Bali Emergency Fund gave money to each of these brave people and more this week to help them support their children and families through this time. We hope you will help us go back to them soon to give again.
A few years ago Niluh found the incredible strength to leave her abusive husband. A difficult step for anyone but in Bali it comes with cultural shame and abandonment of a woman’s family and entire community. She is often left standing very much alone. This was the case for Niluh.
Her husband refused to allow her see her daughter, Riska, and even excluded her from Riska’s teeth-filing ceremony - a rite of passage into adolescence and a moment of huge significance for a Balinese parent. Niluh began her new life with the heartbreaking absence of her daughter but eventually Riska found her way back to her mum and now they live together in a small room in Denpasar.
Niluh is determined and impressive having taught herself English and worked her way up in hospitality to become a manager. She is the sole provider for Riska. However Niluh lost her job two months ago and has since been struggling more and more each week - she makes small biscuits to sell at the local warung to pay for food. She turns the electricity off most of the day only to be used when needed. She can’t afford the petrol to visit her own elderly mother in Kintamani who is alone but assures Niluh that she will be ok and to stay where she is and worry about Riska.
The generational unconditional love of a mother.