‘I don’t want to buy a leather wrist band but how about we get you some food?’ That’s how Jan Johannesen from Bali Smiles, met the young Made Budiasa on the streets of Kuta in 2006. ‘I was holidaying in Bali with my 14 year old son. Made told us, although he would love to go to school, his family couldn’t afford it and instead he had to sell leather bracelets to tourists in Kuta to earn money for his family. He came from Munti Gunung village in N.E. Bali where it is very dry, barren and there are no work opportunities. He came from the poorest of the poor.’
‘The plight of this beautiful, smiling boy affected me so much I felt I had to do something about it. There are two sides to Bali, the tourism side and the abject poverty. While the message is that education is free, the families have to find money for uniforms and all resources. I put Made through school, he is now 21 and recently married. He completed his studies and is a professional driver for tourists. Book him for your transport needs on 082144672832. To get other kids from Munti off the streets selling in Kuta, I started an Education Sponsorship program and there are currently 20 children attending school.
‘Health care was another way I thought I could help the villagers in Munti. I contacted the John Fawcett Foundation to conduct eye screening and cataract surgery in Munti. As a result, five people have their sight restored. This remote and isolated village was in desperate need of a doctor and I decided to do something about it. I fundraised the money needed to build, equip and staff a small Health Clinic. Patients pay what they can, but essentially it is a free service and no one is turned away. Contraception is a very popular item, as is arthritis medication.
‘I heard of a family of seven who’d had no food for 3 days and were eating salt. (pictured here). I set them up with a pig to generate an income, and a sack of rice. They were the inspiration to start a Rice Sponsorship Program and 21 families now receive a monthly supply of rice. Many more families are in need and the cost is only $26 a month.
‘All of this has been made possible through the support of friends, family, Sacred Heart College Geelong where I worked prior to retiring last year, fundraising functions, talks to Rotary and social media. With Bali Smiles. the funds and goods go directly to where it is needed. Munti Gunung has little infrastructure, a road to the Bali Smiles Health Clinic is my next goal and a start has been made with a concrete track.’
‘Goodness knows what next but I am up for the challenge! Something comes up and I never worry about where the funding or expertise needs to come from as it always seems to fall into place. I never set out to do this, this cause found me and I have found it the most rewarding project to work on.’