REPORTS FROM THE FIELD This Was Truly the Most Amazing Experience of My Life

By Kristina Sergeeva, Volunteer Photographer

My name is Kristina Sergeeva (20), I am originally from Russia, but I was born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I am currently in my last year of varsity studying Photography at Leeds Arts University. I planned my trip to Bali early on in 2017, however I did not realise that this trip would change my whole outlook on life. Before booking anything other than flights, I reached out to charities with the main aim of trying to help them photographically and produce visuals that would benefit them with their mission of improving living conditions, malnutrition and health aspects of life in poverty areas around Bali. Luckily for me, East Bali Poverty Project accepted me into their family.

When tourists visit Bali they are mostly exposed to luxurious hotels, beautiful beaches, rice fields, locations which are mostly found in the South of Bali. However, when I was brought to the volunteer house in the East it was very different, the living conditions, the toilets and hygiene, but this was to be expected. The East Bali Poverty Project staff all welcomed me with smiles, and I am certain that some people that I have met here will be friends for life. The Balinese people who had no idea who I am, or what I am doing here smile and wave at me, and I can honestly say that they made it much easier for me to be comfortable in this environment.

I volunteered at East Bali Poverty Project for two and a half weeks and throughout my time here, I was able to experience teaching Art, English, interacting with the children in schools and capturing photos. I have started thinking about a much bigger and long term project based on Isolation interlinking inequality, poverty and child marriage working alongside EBPP. My eyes were opened when I saw the villages that EBPP supports. Thinking about the way that I live my life in Dubai, compared to the way these people live theirs was a massive contrast.

Some of my most favourite memories were made here, a special thank you to the people that made it worthwhile; Karina, Komang, Penny, Okta, Eka, Sudarma, Sri and the rest of the EBPP staff (too many to name), the enthusiasm that these people have is inspirational, conquering the difficult roads, the dust in the air, despite this never failing to make me laugh. A day that I will always treasure which brought up emotional feelings was visiting homes where malnourished children lived and Karina and Okta providing them with supplements to help them improve their nutrition. This made me feel sadness about the situation, where children who are still so young are experiencing such problems. Seeing this made me want to try and help even more.

This was truly the most amazing experience of my life and the Isolation project is something that I am planning to continue, this trip made me realise that this was the first of many and I will definitely be back!

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