By Billifona Angling Tornadogma, Volunteer Secretary to CEO

Cegi warung. Locals and Komang Kurniawan (left) & Cegi Sch. in background

It’s a mix a feeling between surprised and stunned when you know that sometimes things aren’t just as you expected. Here I am in Bali; it’s been seven weeks since I got the chance to support the work of EBPP/Yayasan Ekoturin as Volunteer for Secretary to David Booth. And there I was in Ban Village last week with David, Hari Kamis, 9 Januari 2014; surprised and stunned! My first visit to Daya Office as a starting point tour along the way to Ban Office and five education program or school location in Bunga where the education program was initially started and then to Cegi, Pengalusan and Darmaji. On the way to Darmaji I saw only from a distance the Jatituhu School which didn’t have any activity that day because students at Jatituhu School goes to school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We didn’t make it to the last school location in Manikaji as well as it has the same education program days with Jatituhu School. It didn’t disappoint me though I was expected to be able to visit all six schools run by the EBPP in Ban Village because as I was told that it’s been a privilege for me to be able to visit five schools in one day on the first visit even though I was only see the Jatituhu in distance away but I took that into account. No one has ever had that chance previously, so I was lucky.

Back to my point, I was surprised to see people living in abject poverty in area between Mount Agung and Mount Abang where previously before the EBPP programs exist, it was a foreign concept for them of a toilet, health concern, hygiene and sanitation and well-being. I was surprised because I know Bali for its dazzling looks of the nature, beaches etc. I never imagine that I would have visited different kind of Bali, other side of Bali where people have very much limitation access to a decent life. Never mind the history now, after EBPP program settled for 15 years now, many achievements has been attained; people are better off now; they built toilets, they are aware of the importance of education for their children now, health concern for babies, toddlers and mothers with Posyandu program. In accordance with the program in education, kesehatan dan gizi, EBPP initiated sustainable agriculture development program, and in environmental concern to help the people help themselves.

What am I doing? I’m explaining programs run by EBPP which all the info can be obtained from its website, call me excited but yeah since it’s going to be my first writing as well on EBPP’s blog, I do have some experience to share with you. I have tell the story of disadvantage communities in Ban Village and the programs runs by EBPP and its achievements, but I haven’t tell you my experience on the visit and how I got there in those locations which by far I can tell you it was a thrilling yet adrenaline-spur trip to get there. It was difficult, no asphalt road mostly covered with rocks chunks and clay but I found it fun, like an off-road sport! The view is amazing and stunning but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

A new tree seedlingburied by 1 metre of sand in 3 hari hari

My first visit was at Bunga School where the education program first started. I met several KPA students or equal level to elementary/basic education. They seemed quiet and shy and David told me it’s because I’m a stranger to them and it would have been different if David was there he added because to the children/students he’s not a stranger, he’s a family, one of them. I saw small class rooms and it was minutes away before the class begin. After had a small chat with the students like “halo, which grade are you? What are you studying and what can you write? I went back to the Daya Office to see the bamboo cluster and organic farming such as chili, tomatoes and green vegetables among other. It seemed that I was only seen the tomatoes because the massive floods had caused many bamboo and other plants to be buried under sand, washed down from the steep hills above.

After a few moments, David, Komang Kurniawan [Pemimpin tim] and I went up to Cegi School. Unlike at Bunga School without David, students at both schools were hilarious! They cheered up and showed some spirit. It started with David drop a hello by the door and enter the class room and say “how are you?! in full-of spirit-tone and they respond by saying “I’m fine thank you!! in louder tone…wow! Keep the spirit high students… Before we left school to Pengalusan, we dropped by the Cegi Warung or a small traditional shop, selling daily supplies such as ingredients, fish and meat, we had a chat over coffee with locals for whom David hasn’t met quite a while. Funny to see that the warung has only existed for 5 tahun, they never had any warung before. And what they had bought and were selling from Menanga market; 15 km away, other than vegetables such as beans and green vegetables were cooked fish and oranges – things they never saw or had eaten before EBPP’s education program started in 2000; when EBPP started giving fish and fruit to the kids.

Cegi mums, buying fresh foods at their new warung

I found the same atmosphere at Pengalusan and Darmaji School, children were cheerful. At Darmaji School I got the chance to meet up Teachers, Tutors and Staff. I was let in of a small coordination meeting with them and David to discuss latest progress, masalah, obstacles and plan ahead.

We spent around 45 minutes approximately and then went back into Ban Office. At the office I met and had conversation with Staff from Health, Education program and Sustainable Bamboo and Organic Farming Program Leader, Ketut Suastika. After we had lunch and coordination meeting arrange by David; we were sitting for about half an hour listening to David’s pointers with Program Coordinators and Staff and reviewing the importance of EBPP’s Child Protection Policy for all Staff which then David appointed 4 Safety Officers/focal point officers for that matter, we attended a celebration held at Wayan Mangku Potag’s residence; a former Accounting Staff of EBBP before he resigned and run the campaign for Kepala Desa or Head of Village or Perbekel in Balinese and that day it was his celebration after winning the campaign and been inaugurated at the Regency Office.

Then David, Ketut Suastika and I headed back to Denpasar and we arrived in Denpasar at 18:20 pm. What I can tell you it was a great day for me to have a chance to visit the office, the schools; had a small chat with the students and to see their activity, the learning process conducted by Teachers and it was also an eye-opener as I have seen only the tourism spot such as Kuta and Legian. Now I got the chance to support EBPP’s work for the children and the communities for them to help themselves and look forward to have the off-road experience again…

Daya Bamboo Centre digging plants out of sand
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