Creativity in the Ban Village
By Nadia de Jong, EBPP Volunteer, July 2014
Growing up in Bali and having parents who were often involved in social projects, I always believed I was well-equipped with the essential ingredients that enabled me to become aware of how poverty-stricken areas in the world are. That said, what I saw last Friday when Komang Kurniawan, the Team Leader & Chairman of EBPP, and I ventured through the Ban village hillsides was certainly unprecedented. People had told me the state of the roads, but nothing compared to seeing it myself. People had told me how little the Ban communities had, but nothing compared to seeing it myself. Most of all, nothing compared to how I experienced first-hand their expressions of creativity in their school environment. These schools are only one of many programmes in Ban village created, inspired and managed by the EBPP team to empower the local communities to help themselves, led by their children.
Upon arriving in Darmaji, a boy playing in the sand caught my eye. He had innovatively upgraded his little toy truck by attaching a pulling string that allowed him to move it more rapidly. He then attached different rocks to the top while swiftly running and pulling the truck behind him. He looked very pleased with himself when he succeeded his creative endeavours!
Most of the older girls were practicing Balinese dance when we arrived at the Jatituhu school. The younger girls were peering curiously in from the door frame, admiring the way in which these older girls were preparing for their Indonesian Independence Day performance. Before EBPP started their education programme here in 2005, nobody in the region had seen Balinese dance before! And, teaching them Balinese dance was one of EBPP team’s hardest tasks.
In the background I heard the harmonious voices and guitar strings of students in another classroom two doors down. It seems that although the students are far removed from the creative stimuli that were present in my childhood like ample colouring books, creative toys and recorded music, they developed and enjoyed creativity in their own ways.
I also talked with Made Kari, one of EBPP’s former art teachers who now heads the music team, who told me how he’d sit with the children in art class and help them explore creative expression using pastels, crayons and pencils. Most of them drew mountains and rice paddies (even though there are not any rice paddies at all anywhere in Ban village!!), but they were also encouraged to be abstract and think outside the box – I was told one student even drew a plane, despite only having seen one from a distance in the sky.
It’s clear that creativity manifests itself in the Ban village in a multitude of ways. In the realm of psychology, the importance of having such creative outlets for a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development is ubiquitous. Learning how to express things that they may not be able to verbalize, being innovative in finding solutions and developing observational skills are only some of many benefits that they can benefit from in their futures. I hope to see many more expressions of children’s creativity in my future visits to Ban village!