This is Made
Made was the number two child of six children born in Karangasem, the poorest area of Bali. It’s hard to grasp how a distinct area on a small island can be so economically disadvantaged relative to the rest of it but it’s partially because of the infamous Mt Agung who wreaks her havoc on communities in more ways than her bubbling temper. Agung literally cuts Karangasem off from the rest of Bali making access to and from the area much more difficult. Karangasem is traditional farming land; the people there are born into a lower socio-economic bracket and simply getting out of there can be more than they can afford.
Made had dreams of being a teacher and if his gentle nature and articulate English are anything to go by, any child would have been lucky to have him. But he couldn’t afford to study and had to earn a living from a young age to support his younger siblings. He first worked in a batik store in Sanur where over the years he taught himself Japanese to improve his communication with customers.
Since then he has worked in a tourism agency in Gianyar. When I asked him whether he enjoys working in tourism he thoughtfully paused and said ‘yes I do… because it is like teaching - I have the opportunity to tell tourists all the stories of my culture and country.’
It seems that Made has been an undiagnosed diabetic for many years - a common affliction in Indonesia complicated by a very under-resourced and indecently-serviced medical system. He has had multiple operations on his kidney and gall-bladder that have made him weak and unable to work. Just when he had regained his strength and wanted to return to tourism, covid struck.
Made has lived in the same Kos (single room) in Gianyar for 11 years with his wife and now 6 year old son, Dharma. They cannot leave this area because the hospital he regularly attends is there; the government health insurance system (if you are lucky enough to be covered) will only cover you for certain hospitals none of which are in his home district of Karangasem where his parents live ‘in a broken house’.
Despite being unemployed, Made has continued to pay his BPJS premiums from his savings to ensure he and his family are medically cared for if they need help. But it has left little money for anything else - they have been fed by the generosity of friends and stayed put using limited electricity to avoid any other expenses.
Made said “I have no other word to say but Thank You Very Much for your help. On behalf of my family, as well all of my friend in the Kos… we pray God will always bless you.”