To Begin Again ~ Chiang Mai, Thailand
In May 2013, I left my life behind in Houston to set out on a six month sabbatical through Southeast Asia. I desired to throw caution to the wind and go out into the world to see what existed beyond the confines of my American life. An eternal wanderlust with deep reverence for seva (service), I knew I also wanted to serve the global community in some way.
Delivering toys and shoes to kids in Siem Riep, Cambodia
I have always possessed a passionate interest in the well being of our youth. Over the years, I have volunteered at MDAnderson Cancer Center in Pediatrics working with outpatient children, as well as being trained as an advocate with Child Advocates, Inc. Most recently, I have partnered with In-Powered, by One Significant Act, a non-profit organization to host retreats at Elm Flats Ranch. Through these retreats, we utilize the healing benefits of yoga to help empower our youth.
A month into my journey, I found myself on the enchanted island of Bali. From the moment I arrived, I felt captivated by everything around me. A sense of enthusiasm and renewed inspiration burst forth a wellspring of creativity for writing and photography and an overwhelming joy for life had re-awakened in me. The sari (essence) of this resplendent land had begun to work its healing magic on me.
Then, one jungle book morning while driving through an area of Ubud called Penestanan, my search for a seva project had ended as I discovered The Bali Children’s Project.
The Bali Children’s Project (BCP) is a tax-exempt non-profit charitable foundation registered in Bali, Indonesia. Helping children on the beautiful spirited island for almost 20 years, it is dedicated to education as a means of improving the lives of the disadvantaged youth in Bali. BCP was founded on the belief that children, empowered to realize their potential will enrich their own lives and their villages and contribute to the world we all share.
Their wide-ranging and well structured programs include the sponsorship of children so they may complete primary and high school, classroom support, teacher training, workshops and classes for sex education and HIV-AIDS awareness, as well as health and nutrition.
Located in an unassuming building and nestled next to a coffee shop with a sign painted across the front, the sound of children’s laughter immediately drew me in. I located the director, Linda Venter and set up a meeting. We sat down for coffee and I asked her how I could be of service. Linda began listing off all BCP’s needs, from volunteering to teach the kids, to sponsoring a child, or raising money for school supplies. Dissatisfied with any of those options, I told Linda I needed bigger. I wanted something tangible and permanent I could present to my community to help me invest in.
Linda’s eyes lit up and she suggested that the kids need a school. The students of BCP are currently being taught in the overcrowded office front room and they need a dedicated space in which to learn. I asked her how much it would cost to retrofit a pre-existing building or build a school from the foundation up, pay the teacher’s salary for a year and maintain the school. She confirmed that $10,000 would go a long way in Bali. I told her consider it done.
We live in a global world where everyone is connected. The future and prosperity of humanity and their healthy relationship with one another is dependent on the love, support and education we provide our children. In Bali, kids under the age of seven are not entitled to a free education by the government. Early childhood education is crucial to the development of social, communicative, cognitive and physical motor skills. By providing opportunities for education, we are giving children the chance for a better tomorrow, while assuaging the burdens of today.
Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high quality early education. ~ US President Barack Obama (State of the Union 2014)
Every aspect of Balinese life is rich with ritual. Every act is completed with intention and purpose, and in harmony with the fertile earth, gods, and the smiling people with which they live.
“At BCP, we are determined to help their students know their potential and be motivated to grow and explore possibilities. Not to become western but to become limitless, to see beyond the confines of poverty and to want an education for the sake of knowledge. Great volunteers really help with that mission.”
It is my intention to raise $10,000 to build a kindergarten school in Ubud. Will you help me and contribute $5 a day for one month? That is only $150. Your donation will be the foundation of these children’s education and will support a community for years to come. The building has already been chosen for this school. All that is needed are the funds we raise to manifest this gift of education for the youth of Bali. Our combined gift of $10,000 will go directly to funding the construction of a school in Penestanan and supplying that school with the requisite furniture, school supplies and teacher’s salaries for one year.
If you are unable to contribute monetarily, you can still help by collecting and donating:
- school supplies: crayola crayons and markers, play-doh and pencils
- jigsaw puzzles
- picture books for 4-6 year olds
It is with a heart full of love and open hands that I wish to give back to this lovely community that gave me so much. With your assistance, I look forward to watching this school be built, brick by brick and classroom to garden, as the gates open and a new learning center is created. Please join me in helping to establish this space that will contribute to building a brighter future for the children of Bali.
To donate, please go to my indiegogo campaign at: http://igg.me/at/Build-a-School-in-Bali/x/1343115
In love and service,