Latest report from the field from David Booth

Field visit report: 5th August 2010

In this blog:

  • Meet our recent team members
  • Cegi children’s art cooperative’s developments
  • First toilets for 2 remote communities
  • Pengalusan students’ music lessons by EBPP’s newly trained musicians
  • Darmaji children practice Genjek for Independence Day performance

I’m frequently asked how often I visit our programmes in Desa Ban. Whilst it’s average once/week, it can be up to 2-3 days/week for one or more of the following: new programmes starting; new developments in existing programmes; visiting 2-3 of our schools because I miss the children; monitoring and advising our teams on complex projects such as infrastructure & bamboo reforestation; escorting donors; introducing guests who are keen to be involved; and staff training and team building workshops.

Our visit on 5th of August combines many of the above.

We arrive at our Daya field office in 2 cars at about 9.00am, ready for coffee! I’m joined by:

  • Rosmara Dewi: Head of our education and organic vegetable farming programmes. Ros is now based in Denpasar, with husband Tri Budiyono, EBPP Vice Chairman and Denpasar Secretariat Administrator. Ros’ key goal this visit was to finalise our Independence Day planning with Yeni …., Team Leader of our Education Team, and Gede Sujana, Senior Coordinator of our Elementary Education programmes,

And, our recent team members:

  • Georgina Wiles: an experienced journalist from Australia, joined EBPP as a volunteer 2 months ago to offer her expertise in finalising our updated video documentary, developing PR strategies within the organisation and training local staff to make the most of new media when promoting EBPP.Georgie Wiles
  • Aris Hariyanto: Joined EBPP on 19th July to work alongside Georgina in developing EBPP’s communication strategies. Aris, a young Indonesian from Jogjakarta, is training to fill a long term communications role with EBPP. At the moment he is working on effective reporting from the field, blogging, filming EBPP’s many sustainable projects and working with Georgina to make sure the work of EBPP is effectively promoted and communicated to our sponsors.

And a guest seeing the project for the first time:

  • Shane Bannister-Jones: A new EBPP friend observing EBPP’s sustainable development programmes in action with a view to seeking support for children’s vocational education programmes and others. Shane found out about EBPP after meeting our PR volunteer Georgina, and was instantly interested in finding out more about the project as well as exploring ways in which she could help.Shane Bannister-Jones with David Booth

After briefing Shane on our history and developments since 1998, we inspect our nearby Sustainable Bamboo Development, Training and Treatment Centre, (supported with technical expertise, bamboo seedlings, hands-on field training and design by Linda Garland & her Environmental Bamboo Foundation which incorporates a worm farm, organic vegetable garden and simple café (not yet in operation).

Cegi children’s Art Cooperative’s developments: We pile into our 4WD Toyota Hilux for the 2km drive to Cegi, stopping first at their new art studio/gallery under construction. It overlooks the wide gorge between Mounts Agung & Abang and has the most amazing panorama, a dream for a landscape artist! Around the corner is our Cegi School, where our talented young artists’ [Cooperative members’] smiles tell us they are in painting paradise; applying many new techniques they learnt from our recent UK volunteer art & textile teacher, Maddy Devitt (see blog reporting on Maddy’s successful classes) as well as their honed skills from some of our expert Balinese artists volunteers. Their goal right now is to promote their art as their future livelihood and hopefully sell some on Independence Day!  I’ve got a lot of work to do to get the word out! I should mention here that our budding artist students paint in their free time and that their school is actually their own “community learning and development centre”.

First toilets for 2 remote communities: EBPP provided toilets to all their 6 schools in 2006-7 thanks to a grant from the Royal Society of St George in Jakarta, being the first ever toilets in these remote hamlets. At that time, the Pengalusan community leader, Pak Nyoman Kantor, requested we also provide a toilet for his small family home “so that I can invite all of the other 60+ families in my hamlet to use my toilet and teach all of them the importance of good sanitation, the benefits of a cleaner and safer environment AND improved family health”. Since that time, it seems that all of the families have been “toilet trained”, resulting in Mr Kantor’s request on 3rd June 2010 for me to seek funding for every family to have their own toilet. He was joined in this request by the community leader of the adjacent hamlet, Cegi through their formal letter: “In order to improve the sanitation and environment health in Cegi and Pengalusan hamlets of Ban village, we, Cegi and Pengalusan communities, request help for materials for 115 toilets & bathrooms for the 69 families in Pengalusan Hamlet and the 46 families in Cegi Hamlet”. I am proud to report that our proposal for these 115 toilets has been approved by Royal Bank of Scotland and construction will start in both communities directly after Independence day! We hope that we will soon have further funding to facilitate toilets for the 460 families in the other 4 hamlets where EBPP have schools. This is another great example of community empowerment and ownership, the cornerstone of EBPP philosophy of “Helping people to help themselves”, along the road to sustainable social and economic development in this previously forgotten region.

Pengalusan students learn music with EBPP’s newly trained musicians: When interviewed in 1998, none of the Pengalusan community knew any song or dance, and had neither seen Balinese dance nor the Indonesian flMusic in Pengalusanag! It is not therefore surprising that our Pengalusan children who joined our first classes in September 2000 have a great desire to sing and dance for their communities, especially on Independence Day – and hopefully as their future profession. Their enthusiasm and locked up talent emerged on 17th August 2006, when Ubuh, then a 2nd year junior high school student, choreographed his own pop song and dance performance – with amazing pride and self-confidence. Thus my joy when we arrive at Pengalusan School today, being serenaded by Ubuh singing his favourite Balinese song, accompanied by our 3 young EBPP staff (wayan, Edy & Puspita) on guitars, who were recently trained by “One Dollar for Music (ODFM)”. Pengalusan is our pilot music learning project, followed by Cegi and Jatituhu. ODFM have 4 music groups of young Balinese professionals who are keen to give workshops at EBPP schools and for small groups of students to join them in Denpasar & Sanur. We are presently compiling proposals for the budgets for developing these exciting learning programmes.

Darmaji children practice Genjek for Independence Day performance: Our Darmaji Education Programme, launched in June 2007 with sponsorship from USA-based Ganesha Foundation, has been our most exciting programme to date, with 9 children graduating elementary school in 2009, after only 2 years at school! Our biggest surprise though was at our 2007 Independence Day event, when a creative group of 7-9 year olds performed Genjek, the traditional Balinese banjar song performed as a recreational and humour activity by the men & boys in local Balinese dialect, reflecting topics of the day. As we arrive in Darmaji today, the boys are well into their practice, but their creativity compelled them to launch their performance with a simplified Kecak Dance rendition, then moving in single file to their genjek formation. They bring a couple of our girls into the act, changing the theme somewhat to a sort of Dangdut performance, when Georgina is coerced to the stage (after I refused – knowing I’ll get dragged up on 17th August…) to play the male dancer role. The talent that is developing among these children goes beyond what we could have ever envisaged – and their pride bubbles through with their joyfully cheeky smiles.

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