By Stefanus Bournias, EBPP Intern
It was 5am and the scorching rays of the tropical sun had not yet pierced through the crack of dawn. I was still half asleep. But by the time I had jumped on my motorcycle headed towards the EBPP headquarters in Denpasar, the cold morning air roused me like the cacophony of roosters that serve as natures alarm for many locals on the island of Bali.
An EBPP vehicle (4WD) picked us up and off we went on a 2-hour ride towards Desa Ban (a remote area of East Bali where the project sites of the EBPP are located).
The roads are pleasant so early in the morning as the hordes of motorcycles and cars being driven to work are not to be seen until approximately an hour later (7-8). The drive is smooth until we reach the main road (the only road) that leads to Desa Ban. This road is relatively smooth because although it leads up to a higher altitude, the terrain is still rather level and thus easier to construct on. However, I am becoming motion sick due to the meandering of the road that leaves me dizzy.
I close my eyes.
I awaken and we are nearing the boundary of Desa Ban. The air here is much cooler than the south of Bali that is heavily polluted from all the congestion.
It’s fresh and I inhale deep breaths of the oxygen rich air. It eases my dizziness.
We reach the EBPP Daya Field Office, which is the easiest EBPP location to reach. Here I am introduced to some very amiable locals, all members of EBPP Bamboo Team led by Ketut Suastika, who have returned from an intensive bamboo workshop in Bogor, Java, funded by EBPP’s new Indonesian donor.
The young men show their newly crafted bamboo tables and chairs and I am impressed at the level of craftsmanship they have gained in only a weeks long course. A short meeting commences and we take seat on a tikar (a carpet that is made from palm tree fibers). During the meeting, the types and business prospects of bamboo products are discussed and innovative ideas are exchanged.
A complete bicycle made of bamboo except for the wheels? Interesting!
The next stop is Cegi; a rather remote hamlet where the monthly Health Post and EBPP school are located. Bapak David Booth makes a short intervention into one of the classrooms and the students enthusiastically exclaim “Selamat Pagi!”(Which is good morning in Indonesian).
I join in and speak a sentence in Balinese to which the students burst out in laughter, surprised.
I observe the simple yet vital technologies installed to monitor rainfall levels, wind speed & direction and temperature. An anemometer, rainwater gauge and maximum-minimum thermometer that are all extremely useful instruments in especially harsh terrains where people rely on nature for their livelihoods.
Briefly I meet Wayan Lias and I am inspired! Wayan is an artist studying a fine arts teaching degree at Ganesha University, having graduated from EBPP’s Cegi school in 2011 and now is full time staff with EBPP.
We continue towards two other hamlets, Jatituhu and Darmaji – where there are also EBPP schools. The road (dirt path with some broken concrete) is arduous, only a trail bike or 4WD vehicle can reach these remote locations.
The dust is rising from the traction of the wheels and I am getting dizzy again from the bumpy ride.
We arrive and I am instantly all right. The students here are taking part in the EMpower program. The EMpower program runs for the duration of a year and is divided into quarters that are broken into 3 four-week segments, which combine classes, hands-on learning activities, skill development and presentation/advocacy.
Finally, we head north to the EBPP Ban headquarters where we have lunch and I meet the lovely staff and a volunteer.
On the return trip I contemplate the lives of the locals living in these remote areas before I fall asleep from yet another bumpy ride.
I am shocked that during all my years growing up in Bali I had never really considered poverty and how it affects the lives of people here. I wonder how dire the situation must have been pre 1998, before the EBPP had started their work.
I am proud that I can give something to such a noble cause and am deeply grateful for the opportunity to do so!