Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sharing and Caring with Solemen

December is a busy and festive month in Bali as many tourists spend their end-of-year holidays here and join the resident expatiates in a merry period of cheer and exotic fun, sipping a cool drink with toes wiggling in the sand, wearing a Santa hat to ward off the rays of the sun or dancing the old year away under swaying palm trees.

Christmas carols float around in shopping malls, restaurants and hotel lobbies. New Year trumpets and slingers are sold on the street and spruce up the usual decorations everywhere. It’s a world of celebration and goodwill, a chance to renew our hearts with peaceful intentions and goodwill towards everyone.

The tourist areas of Bali are in full decorative mode enticing visitors to celebrate and partake in all the joys the festive season is bringing. Yummy food and delectable drinks are high on the menu and Bali, being the mecca of great restaurants and eateries, lures visitors with mouth-watering selections featuring traditional and not so traditional holiday favourites.

While you are tucking into that luscious duck, succulent turkey or glistening ham, spare a thought for the less fortunate on this island of plenty. Few tourists are aware that Bali has a staggering poverty rate and malnutrition is rampant in some of the more remote communities. And in those communities it is the children who suffer most. Poor nutrition and inadequate vitamin, protein and micro nutrient intake in children result in poor brain development, weak muscle growth and impaired coordination. This affects a child’s mental, physical, emotional and social health and is the leading cause of degenerative disease in adulthood. A malnourished child with delayed development is at greater risk of illness and disease throughout its lifetime. Many poor families are unable to afford even the most basic food necessities and are severely malnourished.

Yayasan Solemen, one of the best known and transparent charities in Bali, has made it their mission to care for the least fortunate people on this island. Solemen’s great Outreach program touches many people in remote communities whose lives are tainted by the misery of untreated diseases, disability, extreme poverty, malnourishment and destitution.

Sometimes it does not take a great deal of money to alleviate some of the more searing problems like malnutrition and Solemen’s monthly distribution of food parcels to poor families brings great succour and grateful smiles to the children. These basic food parcels include all local products and consist of a sack of rice, sugar, Bali coffee, cooking oil, tray eggs, tahu or tempe, chicken, milk, fruit and vegetables. They cost Rp700k (approximately AUD$68), the equivalent of a modest Christmas or Chanukah present.

Donating a basic food parcel to a needy family would be an utmost gift of kindness and a great way for them to share in the festive bounty. Donating a monthly food parcel would certainly spread that goodwill cheer throughout the new year. To contribute your gift and learn more about the good work done by the Solemen,

- Nobody should endure hunger -

Monday, November 27, 2017

East Bali Bamboo Bikes

The village of Ban (Desa Ban) in Karangasem, East of Bali, has the distinction of being one of the largest villages in Indonesia, with its 7,200 hectares village boundary joining the craters of Mounts Agung and Abang in the south and then running northerly from both craters to meet on the boundary of Tianyar village, 5km south of the ocean road which connects Amlapura city with Singaraja. All of Desa Ban’s 19 sub-villages lie within 12km of Mount Agung crater which meant that all of the 3,500 or so families from these 19 communities were forced to flee their homes on 22nd of September when severe earthquakes pointed to an imminent eruption of Mount Agung, with the Government Disaster Mitigation Agency raising the alert level to IV, its highest, and ordered all villagers living within 12km of Mount Agung crater to evacuated to designated safer locations. By 29th October, volcanic activity had reduced to a level where the danger zone was reduced to 6-7.5km and only those within this zone were not allowed to return home. That included 8 of our 19 communities.

In 1998, when the East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) formed a partnership with the 19 communities of Desa Ban to reduce poverty and promote culturally sensitive, sustainable social and economic development, it was clear that their centuries of isolation and abject poverty had been exacerbated by the destruction caused by Mount Agung’s 1963 eruption, which continued on and off until February 1964. In 1998, with short and medium term goals to reduce poverty by improving infrastructure, education, health care resources, water and sanitation, the long term goals were to create livelihoods opportunities through the most beneficial natural resource of bamboo.

Bamboo has played a key role in EBPP’s community based sustainable economic development activities since 2007, including planting more than 80,000 bamboo plantlings and training more than 20 local people, including 7 high school graduates from EBPP’s schools, from 7 different communities in bamboo clump management - in partnership with the late Ms Linda Garland and her Environmental Bamboo Foundation - and bamboo product development. In addition to selling a wide range of size and styles of high quality woven bamboo baskets, produced by our Cegi and Pengalusan communities since 2003, our new bamboo product venture to further empower our communities for the long term is production of high quality bamboo bikes. Starting in November 2016, after recruiting Deni, an experienced bamboo bike builder from Bandung in West Java, we soon had a well-trained local team of 9 bamboo bike builders, using locally sourced bamboo and working from our recently built and well equipped Daya Bamboo Workshop.

A key essential for all bamboo poles before use is to ensure that as soon as harvested, they are cleaned and treated to preserve the bamboo and prevent termite infestation, and then dried to a moisture content of 6-8%. Here was where we experienced difficulties due to our often very humid and cloudy days at our Daya Bamboo Workshop area. I should clarify that Daya, at an elevation of about 950 metres above sea level, is in the valley between Mounts Agung and Abang, with temperatures that can range from an overnight low of 12 degrees Celsius to a high of 32 degrees in the same day, and due to its valley location, has quite high humidity and gets more rain and cloud than the remaining 18 hamlets of our mountain village.

To solve this problem, we built a 4m x 6m ‘drying room’ from matt black painted corrugated zinc sheets to absorb the heat, built pallet-type drying racks inside to stack the bamboo and installed a dehumidifier with fans at the rear to absorb the humidity and increase the temperature – resulting in achieving the desired moisture content of the cut bamboo poles after treatment in a just a few days – whereas before building the drying room, it could take weeks and not achieve the low moisture content required. Now, we can dry the bamboo and maintain the appropriate moisture content until the poles are needed for the next bike!

Since selling our first bamboo custom bike to a British expat in April, which included front and rear bamboo custom made bamboo baskets we have sold more than 40 bamboo bike frames to local businesses and now are developing our website for “East Bali Bamboo Bikes”. We are continuously improving our standards and moving towards a sustainable business where our present team of trained artisans will train others in our village, especially graduate students, both male a female, which we hope will eventually provide home industries for many of our communities and hope that our high school graduates will not need to venture to south Bali to seek work – but can develop their own village, supported by East bali Poverty Project team, with our mission of helping people to help themselves to escape the poverty trap.

Of course, much depends on our Holy Mount Agung going back to a deep sleep and enabling our Cegi, Pengalusan and Daya communities to return home and get back on with their lives, and resuming their bamboo products and bamboo bikes business.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Make Vision Count with John Fawcett Foundation

The quality of life for people in Indonesia is reduced as blindness plays a major spoilsport in their normal living. This country is indeed suffering from such problem. World Health Organization data has raised an alarm and states that every single minute in Indonesia sees a person go blind due to the poverty and weak economic conditions. An estimated 5.4 million Indonesians or almost 1.8% of the overall population suffer from different eye conditions, and half of which are cataracts. The majority of eyesight related problems for the people is due to conjunctivitis, refractive disorders, cataract, and glaucoma. Data from the Health Ministry of Indonesia mentions that cataract is causing majority of the blindness among Indonesians. New plastic lens implementation is the urgent need of the hour.

The John Fawcett Foundation (JFF) was created in Indonesia with a single vision to eradicate blindness and reduce its effect among the Indonesian people. The foundation further marks that around four million people are needlessly blind and can be cured through proper treatments. Actions are taken place in order to prevent visual impairment, and this includes blindness prevention, sight restoration, prosthetic eyes and corrective surgery for children.

Majority of the blind people in Indonesia suffer from cataract because they are poor and cannot afford the cost of surgery. For that reason, the JFF team decided to reach out to far flung places in Indonesia and offer help through Mobile Eye Clinics. This exercise is much needed and beneficial for those who live in weak economic conditions. The Village Mobile Eye Clinic offers humanitarian assistance for not only children but impoverished adults suffering from visual impairment through eye screening, medicines, treatments, free surgery as necessary, and finally by providing free glasses. JFF also ensures quality eye care in the most effective manner. The cost-efficient ways of treatment through technology transfer to the villages and remote places ensures that there is a transformation in the lives of such people.

The whole community sees the benefit as the numbers of disabled people reduce. With more than forty thousand cataract surgeries, over four lakh glasses distributed and over a million patients screened, the foundation has turned visual impairment from a curse into something which can be prevented and cured. To help such programmes succeed, the foundation looks forward to generous contributions and donations through monetary or materialistic means, or through volunteering efforts of Individuals who want to help others. The success of the foundation relies on these helps. Your support is priceless!

The World Sight Day

Focusing on global attention on blindness and vision impairment, this year’s annual day of awareness will be held on the 12th of October, coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative. JFF, as a member of VISION 2020, is planning a special, large-scale programme as a seven-day event, involving its fleet of four Mobile Eye Clinics, four ophthalmic surgeons and its full team plus extra contract nurses in the regency of Situbondo, East Java.

During this programme, the JFF team estimates to screen 2,500 people with eye problems, distribute 1,875 pairs of glasses and treat 1,250 people with eye drops. With four ophthalmologists operating in the four mobile clinics, they are expecting to be able to restore sight for over 400 people. The team will also go to local primary schools and check the eyesight of the children with an estimated 15 pairs of prescription glasses required.

Situbondo, in the eastern part of East Java, is a very impoverished area. The JFF team conducted a programme there in late January and was inundated by the sheer numbers of people with cataracts. During that four-day programme, the team operated 201 people who were blind with cataracts. They left behind hundreds of others and are keen to return for this special large-scale programme in October to assist those still waiting for their surgeries.

The total cost for this event is estimated around AUD $55,000, so a consortium of donors to support this would be ideal. Supporters of this programme would be promoted at the location and in JFF’s promotional materials. JFF is expecting that this event will attract a lot of media attention in Indonesia and wider afield through social media promotions. Donors would also be most welcome to join the JFF team in October to participate in the event and see the wonderful outcomes of their donation to so many lives.

Please note that donations for this event would be eligible for JFF’s usual tax deductions in Australia, the UK and USA, and can be made online via the JFF website, by bank transfer to the JFF accounts in Australia or Indonesia, or by cheque to JFF Australia.


This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Monday, October 30, 2017

Touch a Life of Children with Bali Life Foundation

Photo courtesy of Bali Life - Foundation
Bali Life Foundation is an Indonesian and Australian registered foundation that exists for the sole purpose of providing a future and hope to the underprivileged children within its areas of operation, especially Bali. This foundation is an award-winning entity, having received many prestigious awards for its great work of improving the social and economic lives of the less privileged.

Currently sheltering about 40 children, a children’s hope stands tall at the heart of the foundation’s work. The children home has offered hope to these little beautiful lives coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, with all of whom have either been rejected, orphaned or even abandoned, prior to their inclusion in this noble work. Rather than be faced with the significant risks that come with living on the streets, Bali Life Foundation offers food, shelter, and clothing to these children.

The foundation’s missions, vision and goals are the indications of what the foundation believes. Their core values are mainly engineered to offer hope to those who may have ended up with bleak futures. The vision determines their missions, which are to provide basic needs to the less privileged (HOPE), train and give skills for future survival (PURPOSE), and to teach good values and morals (DIGNITY).

Within 10 years of existence, the foundation has been able to achieve their goals by depicting an organization having a clamour for excellence in the empowerment of the disadvantaged in Bali, more specifically the children and women. It is Bali Life Foundation’s intention to see such unprivileged lives given another chance of reaching their dreams, thus raising an independent and responsible generation for a future successful nation realisation.

They are currently running 4 programmes.
  1. Children’s Home
Unlike most of the children’s homes we know of, this one doesn’t only purpose to give food to the less privileged but is also concerned with the mental and spiritual spheres of their lives. The children are empowered with education to become responsible, successful and independent citizens with the capacity to influence changes within their respective sub-communities across Bali and beyond. By now, at least 8 of the children under the foundation are either in the course of their college or university studies or have just completed their programmes. All the children sheltered under the foundation attend local schools.
  1. Street Kids Centre
There is an informal school for the street urchins, and at least 30 children are attending the sessions. This school features two classrooms, a children’s play area and a library. This is a perfect ground for making kids to be kids as they learn to be enlightened as well as gain skills for the betterment of their future lives. Learning is carried out from Monday to Friday between 9AM and 5AM, with the classes’ main aim being to nurture a child to become meaningful and productive.
  1. Women's Workshop
Bali Life Foundation hasn’t forsaken the seed bearers of any society-women. Once a mother has been empowered, there is a high chance that the entire generation will get the same empowerment. Many of those who were not seeing any hopes for the future will have a reason to smile from now on. Through proactive care, employment and training, Bali Life Foundation has been able to hamper with the poverty cycle that was eating into most of who had either been disregarded by their partners, lost their partners, and even those who just had to flee from abusive families to save their lives. Jewellery and handicrafts are made by these women, after which they are paid wages in return. The foundation’s future idea is to expand the programme to be able to accommodate larger operation base, that may end up including the youths as well.
  1. Suwung Community Centre
This is another programme that purposes to offer the children as well as their families a place for support. It is a centre for the restoration of PURPOSE, HOPE and DIGNITY, especially to those little ones who are not able to attend school due to financial constraints from their backgrounds. This community centre comes in to help in empowerment, education and medical support among other forms of assistances. The positioning of the school in the Suwung Denpasar Trash Area was purposely designed for the centre to target those families working in the dumpsite. Informal school programmes have been designed, tuitions as well as extra classes for mothers and children. Suwung Community Centre’s informal school features two classrooms together with a playground. It is opened from 10AM to 5PM every weekday. At least 30 children and 10 mothers have been benefiting from this programme.
  1. Self-Sustain Farm
Located on a 3380-square meter parcel of land, Bali Life Foundation runs a Self-Sustain Farm that cultivates fruits and vegetables as well as tending to livestock and Aquaponics. This farm’s purpose is to sustain the activities of the foundation, while at the same time offering a ground for the training of valuable skills and experiences. It is encouraging that though the farm instructors underwent just some informal training, the success of the farm is impeccable.

Bali Life Foundation exists for a worthy course that all humanities ought to consider living for. The foundation has done a commendable job within such a short time. However, due to limited resources, they still need some generous donations to continue the cause they have been doing. And this is where we must take our part. Our donations today will go a long way to expand the humanitarian support and base. Let us support this cause!

Courtesy of Bali Life Foundation
This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Indulge your ceramic interest at Jenggala Keramik

Bali is a most memorable destination hotspot for many international and local tourists. This is because the islands of Bali are graced with gorgeous and breathtaking scenery, bountiful cultures, delectable cuisines and cocktails in the various restaurants and bars and a place to explore and indulge in many watersports as amply availed by the various clear water beaches with fine white sands.

One of the reasons I was inspired to come over to Bali was to soak in all the knowledge I could regarding the vast Balinese culture. And as I went along visiting as many historical places as I could manage and talking to the indigenous people, it was brought to my attention to visit Jenggala where I could find and indulge in the Jenggala Keramik.

Jenggala Keramik is a ceramic warehouse where clay is given the utmost respect and treatment to create beautiful tableware and home ware pieces that many restaurants and homes all over Bali use. And as in the case of the international tourists, the exquisitely handcrafted products are a beautiful way to gift your friends and family back home or keep as souvenirs of your visit to Bali.

The clay for over thirty years that is used is the finest of its kind to create the wondrous formulas used to create and showcase their aesthetic products. Also various techniques are employed like casting and throwing on a potter’s wheel but for the most part are all handcrafted. The technique to be used depends on the intricacies of the product in question. A lot of time is given in the thought, design and quality control processes of each and every product. These ceramic Balinese inspired products are offered in a wide array of shapes and colors, in sets as well as in single pieces. A gallery with a wide inventory is right round the corner where anyone that wants to purchase a piece or two can go right ahead and do so. All of them are at affordable prices and there are discounts and promotions available making the shopping experience all worthwhile and interesting.

For the most part, my time at the Jenggala was spent participating in the ‘Make a Pot and ‘Color a Pot’ program that is provided by the Jenggala Keramik team to its visitors. And I must say that it was time well spent indeed in that well air conditioned space. It reminded me of all the fun I had making various home ware pieces out of soil with friends as I was a very little girl. The beauty of this program is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and sizes, as a group or as an individual. I am pretty sure that many kids preferably of three years plus get a kick out of creating something using their own hands. For the adults, I believe that aside from being a fun way to spend time with friends and family, it is a very good activity for soothing oneself and get one with nature.

Everyone is given a chance to come up with their own design idea and the staff is always there to lend a hand if needed. I love that the visitors get to test and build their creative side. You are left to your own devices and you can create a mug, a bowl, a plate and so on. These have to be fired and so will be ready after four or five days. Hence make sure that your activity is well planned for so as to get to enjoy your final ceramic pieces. Your creation can be made as beautiful as you would want for paints and glazes are provided for your use.And if anyone is interested in having a one on one class, all can be arranged. All one needs to do is ask. I have found that large parties attending these workshops and they can be as fun filled as one wants them to be. So if you want to have a birthday party or anniversary party activity, then Jenggala Keramik is the way to go. All your guests will thoroughly enjoy themselves. Payment for participation is not set but depends on the number of pieces one wants to make or paint.

However if you are also one of those people that would rather feast with your eyes rather than participate directly, it is quite alright. A viewing area is provided for you to view whatever is going on in the studios.

My love for food greatly appreciates the fact that there is a café and restaurant a few minutes’ walk from the workshop and gallery where anyone can feast on the various mouthwatering Balinese cuisines on offer. So after a hard work on your special project, it is a great place to relax and catch one’sbreath with a very good cup of coffee in hand.
All in all, a visit to the Jenggala Keramik is one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a fun activity in Bali that will also draw them closer to Balinese history. Just make sure to secure a booking ahead of time so as not to be inconvenienced. It is also the place to be if you are looking for a venue to keep your guests entertained for whatever occasion you might have in mind. Visit Jenggala Keramik today and witness the magic.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Early Detection Saves Lives – Bali Pink Ribbon

Until recently, major studies regarding breast cancer among women was limited to the developed countries. However, the recent past studies have indicated breast cancer as one of the common type of cancer in the female population in Asia-Pacific, particularly Indonesia accounting for almost 18% of the cancer diagnoses. Based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), cancer incidence in Indonesian women counted 134 cases per 100,000 population, where breast cancer became the highest incidence of 40 cases per 100,000 population and mortality rate for breeder in Indonesia was 16.6 death per 100,000 population. The latest WHO data indicates that breast cancer deaths in Indonesia alone account for 1.41% of all deaths in the country. Magnitude of breast cancer problems in Indonesia can be seen from breast cancer patients who come for treatment, where up to 60% of patients already in an advanced stage. Another surprising statistic is the prevalence of breast cancer among Indonesian women at under the age of 35.
Founded in 2009 by a Brit survivor, Gaye Warren, Bali Pink Ribbon has been actively promoting the vision to prevent Indonesian women from dying of breast cancer. Their main focus is to improve the quality of life and educate women regarding the preventive measures for this disease. Mass media programmes, seminars, and outreach programmes are conducted not only in Bali but across the country to support and empower women along with their families to fight the menace of breast cancer. Another important objective of Bali Pink Ribbon is to reach out to remote parts of the island to provide medical help to the patients.

Dr Dian Ekawati, the Chairman of Bali Pink Ribbon, explained that the incidence and death rate of breast cancer should be suppressed because breast cancer can be detected early. Until now, the cases found in hospitals mostly come with advanced breast cancer and a small amount comes with an early stage. Public awareness to do early detection is still lacking. Efforts awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer has been done by Bali Pink Ribbon in partnership with Prima Medika Hospital. Counselling about breast cancer and early detection followed by breast clinical examination and breast ultrasound for early detection have been done to various regions and community groups in Bali. Hopefully, the wider reach of the community in the knowledge and early detection, so the more can be pressed the number of cases of breast cancer.

The fund through donations and other charitable events received by Bali Pink Ribbon is used to spread awareness and help educate Indonesian women, especially those with breast cancer. Events such as Pink Health Day, Breast Cancer Seminar, and focussed groups are conducted regularly by Bali Pink Ribbon to achieve its objective. International visitors who are affected by breast cancer also visit these focus groups to share their knowledge and experience to Indonesian women to fight this disease. Learning from the survivors of breast cancer gives Indonesian women the courage and motivation to overcome adversities and keep up their fight against breast cancer.

Indonesia Goes Pink 2017
Carrying a theme “Indonesia Goes Pink 2017” – a 1000 Voices, Bali Pink Ribbon is collaborated with Breast Cancer Foundation from Jakarta ‘Love Pink’ and ‘Reach to Recovery’ Surabaya, supported by Oncology Hospital Surabaya, to build breast cancer awareness. This event is based on the idea that if the “Breast Cancer Awareness” movement is massively echoed in various places simultaneously, it would be wider reach of information to the public so that it could increase awareness of the dangers of breast cancer and care to keep health.

Indonesia Goes Pink is an open breast cancer care activity for warriors, survivors, relatives and family. It is a collective effort to increase public awareness of breast cancer with the series of activities consist of gathering with survivors, workshops (make up class, self-healing, learning to wear cloths), talk shows, Thousand Voices of Survivors Dinner, Pink Run, Fun Walk and ultrasound examination.

Although awareness of breast cancer has begun to spread, hopefully the knowledge of breast cancer does not stop there alone. Breast cancer is not “exclusively” specifically for women, but also the people around their lives. This is the reason why this event involves the community of runners as a form of family and relative to support the warriors who are currently struggling with breast cancer.

All participants, either warriors, survivors or supporters, can take advantage of this event to exchange information, gain knowledge, and inspire each other. It is hard for a warrior and his family to fight this disease without the support of morale as well as the much-needed knowledge in their daily struggle. This event is a container for those affected by breast cancer to encourage and work together to fight breast cancer.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A little hope for children future - Bali Children Foundation

As said by Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”. The obvious reference in this context is caring for the children’s welfare and giving them an opportunity to lead a normal life on the Island of Bali. Though there has been some progress in children’s education in Bali, there still remains a concern as only 27 million children attend school in Indonesia and a lesser percentage on this island itself. The dropout rates for primary education for the children in Bali have decreased to less than 1 percent, but there are still a lot of things to achieve in terms of providing them with proper education, food, and medical attention. There is a huge gap between the children getting education in urban areas as compared to the rural areas, and this number stands at a staggering 15% overall. Quality of education for children is also a concern as the higher repetition rates indicates that one out of every ten children that gets the primary education has to repeat the education, and more often than not drops out of school to support their family.
If you travel around this island, it is easy to witness children selling things like bracelets, fruits, and other items to earn a living and support their family. These children come from families with extreme poverty, and the only source of income is by selling things to tourists. Due to lack of education, the option to earn a living is very limited for them. That is why to break this vicious cycle there is a need to educate these children and give them an option to look at better employment opportunities later in life. Though there are government schools where education is free, but the other costs related to uniforms, books, school bags, and other stationery items make it difficult for families to afford the expenditure and send their children to school. Again, despite the presence of compulsory education programme in the country, Bali still continues to struggle with a huge number of school-age children not being able to or continue their education due to location, economic conditions, and cultural factors.
Though there are several charitable organizations catering to the needs of children, Bali Children Foundation (BCF) is doing a remarkable job in helping children through its various initiatives. The main focus of this charity organization is to help children with education opportunities from junior schools till they graduate, and obtain the necessary skills for employment. In addition to teaching English, BCF also engage in offering sufficient computer instructions to children. Such skills along with education are what employers demand, and will help the children earn a decent living when they reach adulthood. The foundation has over the years assisted school districts with particularly high dropout rates to improve retention and improve the quality of education that these children deserve taking care of the costs and removing the burden of extra expenditure from the economically backward communities. 
Since established in 2002, BCF has grown from delivering education opportunities to 45 students to over three thousand students in 45 communities. In these communities, BCF has directly lowered dropout rates after primary school from 60% to 3%, which means communities in which 50% of the population were functionally illiterate now have educated, employed, well-paid young people with great futures to look forward to. Starting July 2017, BCF will be offering education opportunities to 3,300 students in Bali Region. They have been blessed with strong and consistent support from their partner foundations and the businesses of Bali.
BCF work at Kayu Putih in north Bali continues to expand with strong support from Motel Mexicola. Motel Mexicola sponsorship supports school fees, books, bags, shoes, socks and hygiene kits for 19 children, known as ‘Mexicola Kids’ and also helps to provide key skill sets within the community with computer and English classes. In this programme, year 12 students are mentored into a work-ready environment providing pathways into employment.
BCF also offers extensive mentoring programmes for those children who are attending schools at present to understand and take care of their needs. All this has helped the foundation achieve excellent results as several hundreds of the students have gone on to graduate and find decent employment. Another focussed initiative is the pledge that senior students who have benefited from the foundation programme take to give back to their communities. Scholarships are offered on need basis after the economic status and circumstances of the family is analysed by the foundation members and senior students. Senior students of the foundation help reach out to remote villages and provide assistance as necessary to help the foundation achieve its goal.
It is never too late to start something good and it is never too less to help a needy. After all, small drops of water constitute a big ocean. Children are the most beautiful and pure creations of God. To help a child, even in the smallest possible way, can make an enormous difference in their lives. The Balinese children are in real need of funding. You might think the amount you are contributing might not make a difference, but be rest assured it will. You can sponsor the scholarships provided at Bali Children Foundation or make small contributions towards their food, uniform, books and other such amenities. So, let us join our hands together and pledge to take care of the future of Balinese children. “All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them.”

Bali Children Foundation
Jalan Raya Kesambi 369, Kerobokan, North Kuta
+62 851 0064 8400

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Monday, July 24, 2017

Craving Italian dining in Bali

The island’s ever-evolving international dining scene has seen huge growth in recent years, and one particular type of cuisine to emerge as one of Bali’s favourites is Italian. Many Italian chefs play their trade on the island, serving up authentic flavours from home without a frozen pizza or pre-bought packet of pasta in sight. Some of the reputed favourite Italian restaurants make their reputations on outstanding wine lists, while others go beyond Tuscan or Roman cuisine altogether and acquaint diners with the culinary traditions from Italy’s further flung regions. Experience only the finest spots when you want to experience Italian dining in Bali, and expect to find classy and sophisticated Italian food as delectable as it can be.

This is an Italian origin dish which was born in south of Italy. Back in the old days, pizza was only a flat, round base of dough baked into wood fired ovens, seasoned with garlic with a topping of tomato sauce and cheese, typically with added meat or vegetables. And that was it. But these days, pizza comes with a lot of style, taste, and even shape. Time has changed, and probably now is the time for the modern era of pizza. However, some restaurants in Bali are still keeping the authenticity of the origin pizza.
the westin - pregoIn Nusa Dua, there is nothing better than a plate of ‘pizza Margherita’ at Prego. Like a typical classic pizza-style, this restaurant is serving it with freshly mashed plum tomatoes, seasoned with salt, garlic, olive oil and fresh basil, with toppings fresh mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of oregano. Meaning ‘you are welcome’ in Italian word, Prego has an intriguing space that will tempt any senses with its beautiful stylistic layout and a roomy colourful interior in mitigating tones with a somewhat laid back vibe. You will be cooled off by the sound of a soft ocean breeze while admiring the glistening tableware atop the pristine linen. Outside the building, an infinity pool is ready for your pleasure, partially shaded by tall and swaying palm trees. Apart from wood fire oven baked pizzas, this restaurant has excellent variety of food on offer with cold cuts, pasta, risotto, meat, seafood, cheese, and lip smacking deserts.
Salsa Verde at Grand Hyatt BaliStill in ITDC complex of Nusa Dua, Salsa Verde at Grand Hyatt Bali offers the same ambience overlooking the ocean wide. As for the pizza, while Prego is keeping the original taste, this restaurant is more about taking care of the local taste by serving ‘Indonesiana pizza’. Freshly prepared at an open kitchen using homemade dough and baked in wood fire oven, this pizza is made with minced beef rendang, shallots, and chili. The pizza is a nod to Indonesia’s rich and fragrant cuisine. Although serving Indonesian-style pizza, Salsa Verde keeps its flavour to the classic Italian style that will bring your culinary journey to a whole new level of satisfaction.

The Best BrewGoing south to Kuta, The Best Brew has announced their Wood Fired Pizza Making Class program. Dedicated to anyone who wants to learn how to make an authentic wood-fired pizza, you can expect to have step-by-step guidance from the pizza maker. From tossing a hunk of dough, plotting the topping, putting it to the wood fired oven to the revealing unique recipe of ingredients, you would master the art of baking wood fired pizzas in a day! Besides wood-fired pizzas, this restaurant at Four Points also dishes out items like big stick kebab, sausages, and other grab-and-go options. You can choose to eat selected poultry, pork, beef, or seafood, delicately marinated & flame grilled.
Seminyak caters the top Italian restaurants in Bali serving more than just standard pizzas. However, Warung Italia has gradually gained popularity with its simple yet humongous Italian menu. Located at the end of jalan Kunti, the pizza comes in a very good price. The crust is amazingly soft and thin since it is fresh and made on the spot. The list of pizzas is huge and you will find it difficult to choose since all are equally tasty but amusingly different in taste. You can also stack up your plate with fresh well-seasoned calamari, fragile arancini and salty slices of excellent prosciutto topping shapes of multi-hued melon, all-encompassing the star of the dish – an overflowing hill of startlingly crisp, creamy burrata cheddar, served on an energetic serving of mixed greens loaded with bits of pumpkin and sun-dried tomato.
da mariaDa Maria encompasses stunning Roman interiors with Balinese greenery of rubber trees, cacti and passion fruit vines spiralling down the walls. Locally crafted beautiful chandeliers that use simple festoon lighting reminiscent of 60’s Italian courtyard restaurants adorn the ceilings. The fountain is an Italian and Neapolitan icon, adding to the refreshing surroundings. Pizza is undoubtedly the signature style of this restaurant. With dough fermented for 24 hours and inspired by special Neapolitan artisan techniques, the pizzas are cooked in local, Naples inspired lava stone ovens. The Antica Margherita pizza is extremely popular here owing both to its history and explicit taste. Named after Queen Margherita, this pizza is carefully prepared using ingredients to match the three colours of the Italian national flag – green, white and red. It is topped with basil, mozzarella and tomato. The specialty here is the impressive Italian seasoning sprinkled on top.
Hank’s Pizza & Liquor Others Italian Restaurants may be focusing on their specialty, but Hank’s Pizza & Liquor is more about combining pizzas with great cocktails while keeping the Rock n Roll music alive. If Wednesday’s belongs to Classical Hip hop, Thursday’s offers entertaining Jukebox, and Friday’s presents live DJ set. On the menu, the pizza selection includes a wide variety with a favourite such as Dylan – combination of pork & fennel meatball with roasted chili oil, lemon, caramelized onion parmesan, and broccoli. Or you can try The Delightful Siouxsie, a mixture of king prawns, roasted peppers, capers mozzarella, and tomato Passata.

Ginger Moon
Ginger Moon is a warm and welcoming restaurant on a bustling street of Seminyak. This restaurant may not be an Italian restaurant, but they do have pizzas come in unique way. The pizzas are thin, crispy and surprisingly, not round! A definite try out on the pizza menu is the ‘Lamb pizza’ which consists of slow cooked lamb shoulder, black beans, sweet & sour onions, goat cheese with a sip of the refreshing fruit daiquiri. They also offer Gluten free pizzas for those with an intolerance. The concept here is small portions with immense flavour and lots of variety to devour. Your food palette will be on a delicious journey.
This is another main food of traditional Italian cuisine. Normally, pasta is a noodle that made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked by boiling or baking. Italian Restaurants in Bali highlight custom-made pasta in an assortment of sauces. Pairing with imaginative flavours of pizzas cooked in a wood-smouldering stove, the whole menu on the table is loaded with enticing alternatives for those who are looking for an authentic Italian treat.
Seminyak Italian FoodA fantastic new addition to the vibrant Seminyak strip is Seminyak Italian Food, overlooking Double-Six Beach. This modern trattoria, which marries Italian classics with best of the season produce, has quickly risen to become one of the best in Seminyak. The restaurant dishes out the finest Italian preparations, from Calamari, Ravioli, Ricotta and Tiramisu. Enjoy the slow cooked lamb Ragu Fettuccine, grilled sea bass, minute steak, steamed spinach, Arancini and the delightful Bambini (small doughnuts with warm lemon custard and strawberry jam-delicious). The most recommended pasta here is the ‘Tortelli di Granchio’. The pasta is filled with handpicked crab meat, sauce of French butter, Chives and Confit of Tomatoes Passata which is an explosion of Italian flavours in your mouth.
Still in Seminyak, Ultimo Italian also serves a huge plate of mouth-watering Italian food. Decorated beautifully with fairy lights, this place is surely to get noticed, plus having the addition of daily live music performances. Boasting both high service and food quality, pasta stands out remarkably in the menu. Duck filled Ravioli, Linguini with prawns, Aglio olio pasta, seafood pasta with white wine sauce appease your taste buds. The ravioli pasta got curved around the seven-cheddar filling to look precisely like a treat wrapper. In any case, the dish is a great deal more than an adorable trick. The smooth pesto sauce and brilliant cherry tomatoes give an excellent stage to the delectable kaleidoscopic pasta.
La Cucina at Discovery Kartika Plaza HotelA must place to visit if you are strolling around Kuta Beach, Jamie's Italian is rustic with a Jamie twist and features beautiful work by local artists. From the sunny street-facing terrace to the large bar and lively open kitchen, you cannot resist the aura of this place. If you have a large Italian appetite, then the variety of pasta here will match it. Some of the signature dishes are Prawn Linguine, which is garlicky prawns with fennel, tomatoes, chili, saffron, fish broth & lemony rocket. Or, Squid and Mussel Spaghetti Nero, a beautiful flash-fried squid & mussels with tender octopus, capers, chilli, anchovies and white wine tossed through in homemade nero spaghetti.

Jamie's ItalianLa Cucina at Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel, also known as Tastes of Italy, is a place to go for your favourite Italian delicacies. Seated on the ground floor, overlooking Kuta Beach and the hotel’s pool, experience the typical Italian fare in an al fresco besides pizza and pasta. La Cucina Restaurant also has three outdoor bales that provide privacy for a romantic candlelight dinner. The local and international chefs transform fresh and seasonal ingredients into delectable plates to feast upon. The showstopper here is the fresh pasta which tastes as good and comfortable like homemade pastas. Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and hot peppers and Spinach Gnochi is such a treat for the taste buds, as well as The ‘Lasagna Rendang’ that is served to introduce Indonesian flavour.

After the main course, here comes the dessert, Gelato, or you can say ice cream. But wait, there’s a big difference between Gelato and Ice Cream. While Ice Cream normally comes in heavier and richer texture, Gelato is softer, smoother, leaving a clean taste in your mouth. Bali hosts the best gelato which recommended to be eaten straight away in the store, as it is freshly made, held and served at the correct temperature.
Gaya Gelato Gaya Gelato is a clean establishment with a huge selection. This Place is actually a contemporary art Gallery. With Comfortable seating, impeccably cleanliness, fast and friendly service, and moderate pricing, it has become hugely popular. Using the wide variety of Indonesian fruits, they create recipe that reflect the culinary traditions of Bali. You can choose from the popular flavours like mint, aranciola, dark chocolate with orange, strawberry, coconut topped with fresh pistachios, salty caramel peanut butter and hazelnuts and mix two of the flavours in a cup. Quite a mouthful!!

Gelato SecretsA tiny, unassuming, quirky pink gelato cafe located along a busy street in Seminyak, Gelato Secrets offers delicious, wholesome and innovative gelatos. Some very interesting flavours offered here are Black Charcoal with Organic Sulawesi vanilla, organic raw chocolate and salted butter caramel. If you want to devour fruity flavours, go for the Strawberry and guava, pineapple and mint. The differentiating factor of Gelato secrets is that the natural fat from our gelato originates from fresh milk and cream and completely egg free. Not much seating area, so a good place to have Gelato if you are on the run.

Gusto Gelato & CaféA small and cosy café with a greens caped outdoor seating, Gusto Gelato & Café is the place to chill out. Always come out with new experimental flavour like Cinnamon, Avocado, Soursop, Dragon fruits, Tamarillo, Lemongrass, Kemangi, Spirulina, Ginger, Vanilla, Chocolate and Chili, they make gelato eating a memorable and fun experience. It proudly boasts of the fact that 70% of their produce is of Indonesian origin churned into perfection. Decently priced and unlimited tasting is one sure factor driving the customers crazily happy. This is truly the place for dessert fanatics.
Massimo in Sanur is an authentic Italian restaurant, located in the heart of Marina with a fantastic waterfront terrace. True to its name, the walls are covered with photos and paintings of the owner, Massimo. This is one of those classy venues where apart from eating sophisticated food, you get to enjoy the ambience as well. Massimo is a relaxed open-air bar, a gelateria, and a wood fired pizzeria facing the main street of Sanur.  A lot is on the menu here, but the Gelato is highly preferred for desserts. At Massimo, gelato is made from morning until evening. Italian nuts and banana, Rum Raisin and Pistachio, Chocolate and Pistachio, Coffee are some distinct flavours among the huge array of gelatos. In case you do not find your favourites flavour, the chefs promise to make you one the next time you visit them.
Mason GelatoIn Ubud, featuring more than fifteen selections of flavours, Mason Gelato comes in different sizes to meet any personal satisfactions. Used to be known as K’Dewatan Gelato, the gelato tastes so good and it reminds you of your family secret recipes back home. One of their specialties on our menu is Rum and Raisin Gelato, a rather ‘intimate’ of creamy blend and rich flavours.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Tale of Hope for Bali Dogs

Behind all the beauties of Bali, a sad-tale of a dog’s life is looming. Without a doubt stray dogs are quite evident in this island. Bali dogs are by nature free roaming animals that have wandered on the island for thousands of years. Facts show that around 90% of the population of dogs in Bali actually has somewhere to which they belong to. However, it is not the same as the kind of belongingness of a pet to an owner in the Western sense. That is, dogs may be present in that place but the people living there are not their owners.

Before rabies came, Bali had one of the highest populations of dogs in the world. There were somewhere around 800,000 dogs before the rabies outbreak. In 2008, Bali experienced an outbreak of rabies which has since caused a large number of human fatalities. The Bali dogs’ population is not the only problem, but the escalation of rabies-related deaths as well. Rabies problems coupled with myths that Bali street dogs are rabid, aggressive and feral, the government saw it as a threat in their tourism industry because no tourist would visit a rabies-infested environment. If this problem continues, Bali might lose an estimate of 60-70% in the economy sector.

Efforts have been made to eradicate and to solve this problem. Potential community-driven interventions for optimising rabies control such as vaccination took place. In 2015, sadly some provincial government resolved to dog culling. Culling is controlling the size of animals by killing them with the main goal is to lessen the number of stray dogs. But, is this the right thing to do?
This act triggered opposition from animal welfare groups and international experts. They argued that merciless dog culling is not only vicious but it is also not the right answer for rabies prevention. Figures revealed that the number of dogs dropped immensely to approximately 150,000. Dog-meat trade together with culling and natural reasons of death presented a big problem to the Bali dogs’ existence.

Contrary to what is already known, Bali dogs are highly intelligent animals. They are also capable of learning appropriate behaviour and interactions with humans. They make wonderful pets because, like other breeds, they are loyal and loving. They just need to learn to trust humans and, like any dog, they need to be treated with respect and affection. These fur balls’ lives are endangered because of some humans’ unwise decision. Dog culling is definitely NOT the answer. Vaccination and adopting these pups are more effective and humane ways in solving this menace.

Now, the question is: “Are we turning a blind eye on this?”

A group of individuals certainly didn’t turn a blind-eye on this. Lucky Dog Rescue is one of a non-profit dog rescue foundations dedicated in protecting the neglected and forsaken dogs. Claudia Mingardo started this project because she noticed that Bali dogs were treated even more horribly than they are treated at this time. In years past, one would often find the bodies of dead dogs when walking on the beach. These dogs had been poisoned or set afire or tortured for ‘fun’ with their legs wired together and other heinous acts done to them. The hundreds of dogs that roamed the beach and streets were unfed and not given clean water, and most suffered from life threatening skin conditions.

Impossible for Claudia to ignore such cruelty and injustice, so she began to make action by feeding these dogs and administering to their injuries and appalling skin conditions, as well as having them sterilised. As time went by, her compassion for these forsaken animals became a passion that replenished her heart and spirit. It is a pure joy!

Up to this day, Claudia houses 15 dogs while at the same time feeds and oversees the needs of an additional 75 of more dogs who live on the streets, which all of them neutered. She spends almost 12 hours each day – seven days a week – caring for these 75 or more feral dogs and feeding them twice daily. She also spends several hours each day at various veterinary clinics, including their own clinic, Central Veterinary Clinic, overseeing whatever health care is necessary to help these beautiful and innocent animals who are apparently traumatised and fearful of humans.

Funded by herself and the donations of a few like-minded animal lovers, Claudia believes that Lucky Dog Rescue foundation will continue to evolve step by step, dog by dog. As a firm believer that ‘good intention yields good results’, she will keep on administering to dogs in need and to expand its rescue services, including send them to worthy fur parents by means of adoption programme. At this time, Lucky Dog Rescue has 2 part-time paid staff who prepare the large quantity of food required to feed 90 dogs twice each day, as well as to walk and clean the dogs.

Bali is a transient island with a care-free attitude, so dependability is one of the biggest challenges. People have good intentions, but good intentions without follow-through does not feed or care for the many dogs that require being fed and cared for every day without fail. This is where we come in the picture. Let us bring a new chapter to that dog’s tale of hope. We can simply start by treating all dogs with respect and kindness, or providing them healthy food and fresh water. Alternatively, signing up as a volunteer is also an option. Spare time an hour or two to assist in any way possible; to feed or walk the dogs.

As Mother Teresa said, “You may not be able to help all dogs, but you are able to help one dog.” Every bit of our action is valuable. If we could not help them, then who will? After all, we are their only best friends.

Courtesy of Lucky Dog Rescue
This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine