A Volunteers Life on the Slopes of Mount Agung
By James Anthony, EBPP Expert Volunteer, August 2014
I am an Australian volunteer English Teacher Trainer, my home is in Adelaide, South Australia.
This is my third volunteer assignment. My previous assignment was in Mongolia, I don’t think you could get a bigger contrast from Bali.
I became interested in this assignment with the ‘East Bali Poverty Project’ (EBPP) when I saw the role posted on the internet, I Googled EBPP and it touched me so much that I did a bit of research and decided to apply for the assignment, obviously I was successful, and joined EBPP in Bali on the 16th of June.
My house is in small village called Tianyar, which is up on the North-East coast of Bali, it is a small fishing village with salt farms, not many shops one minimart, several small businesses, a small market, a couple of Warungs (roadside eateries), one phone charging shop, they don’t sell phones, just charge up the credit. There are no coffee shops or restaurants, if I want a decent western or any type of meal I have to travel maybe twenty kilometres East or West, to a diving resort.
EBPP site office is in the village of Desa Ban, which is on the slopes of Mt. Agung, between Mt. Agung and Mt. Batur. Although we refer to Desa Ban as a Village, Ban is in fact a very large area, comprising many little hamlets. In six of these hamlets EBPP has created a school in total handling over two hundred students.
On my first attendance at the schools I was surprised at how difficult it was to get there, each one requires a 4WD vehicle to navigate the difficult terrain, that may well have put me off the assignment very quickly, however I discovered that many of the students climb up the mountain, through jungle like terrain, for up to one hour to attend school and similar on the way back down. When I walk into the classroom and see those same children with a great beaming smile, I knew I was where I was meant to be.
I was fortunate to take over from Penny, an English teacher from New Zealand. Penny had a couple of weeks to do a handover, which was most helpful. The Local English teacher, Eka, is really good, this makes my life a whole lot easier than it could otherwise be, we work well together, both in the class and in the office.
Just as Penny left we introduced a new student study book, this is keeping Eka and myself quite busy modifying the course, I think it is a step in the right direction.
I find going to the office a pleasant experience every day, it is a pleasant, cheery place to work and everyone, no matter in which faculty they work would move Mt. Agung to help me.