By Daniel Platt.
A few days before Christmas I began interning at EBPP to do market research and promote bamboo bicycles from Desa Ban. Just after the New Year, I was invited to join founder David Booth, and Karina Suryawinata to see the area of Desa Ban, and the temporary field headquarters located at Komang Kurniawan’s (EBPP Chairman and Team Leader) house in Desa Tianyar Timur.
After a 6am start from Denpasar in EBPP’s 4WD pick-up, we drove over the cool mountain passes near Gunung Agung and through Desa Ban. The riverbed beside the road back down the mountain was dry, despite all the rain that’s been falling further south. Passing along the main road, I was surprised at how unremarkable the houses looked – hardly different from any other village road in Bali. I was curious about what the hamlets further from the road looked like. On arriving at Pak Komang’s house, David introduced to all the staff.
We gathered with the healthcare and education teams in the front bale of Komang’s compound to give updates, and discuss issues and plans. Most of the staff are from Desa Ban, and seemed really friendly and motivated for their work. It seems a current challenge is organising classes for children spread among various villages and evacuation camps, as many stay too far away to go back-and-forth for classes; and many don’t want to go to government schools because of the difference in teaching methods.
We then saw the construction of the new bamboo bicycle workshop, where about a dozen guys were raising the precast concrete columns to support the roof and cladding. The rest of the work should take two weeks to finish, and then the bicycles can be built closer to home, rather than in Denpasar.
After lunch, we went to check on two of the evacuation camps nearby. I was struck by how quiet it seemed inside. The first was in a large compound, but there seem to be few people around, which, as I have been told, is because many of the villagers return home during the day to take care of their cattle or check on their belongings. At the second site, the classes were being conducted for the Desa Ban children, and I was impressed by the senior school teacher conducting two classes on different subjects simultaneously.
Overall, the trip gave me a much better understanding of what EBPP does, and how my work fits in.