Made* doesn’t know who or where his parents are; he doesn’t remember them. He doesn’t know how old he is, he seems to be 10 or 11 years. He doesn’t even know his real name, Made is what the other street kids call him.
A kind hearted Balinese lady found Made almost unconscious, and with a bad skin infection, next to a main road in Kuta. She took him in, helped him to get better, and then approached the social department to ask where he could be taken so he didn’t end up back on the streets. The social department recommended Bali Life.
Sadly, Made’s story isn’t an isolated instance; beneath the tourist attractions of Bali there is an island in real need. There are many people living in poverty. This poverty, for example, leads to child exploitation since children are sent to work on the streets to earn money and are unable to receive an education. Therefore in the busy tourist areas of South Bali a large scene of ‘street kids’ has developed where children are sent out by their families to beg.
Life on the street is full of danger and vulnerability. If begging is unsuccessful it often leads to petty crime and, heart-breakingly, into life as sex workers where work/money is more dependable. Being children, they do not fully understand the implications of what prostitution would mean; they just see it as a secure way to gain an income (a relatively good one compared to begging). Obviously, this is an appalling prospect for these children and on top of that it is worth noting that in Indonesia there are 270,000 (2007 est.) people living with HIV/AIDs – making it the 25th worst affected country in the world. (7)
Street Kids Center
The greatest ways we can help to stop children from begging on the streets is through empowering the children and their parents through education and work opportunities. This is where our Bali Life Street Kids Center comes in. The Center is in Denpasar and looks to serve the street children and their families who would usually be begging on the streets. The center has two main programs; the Street Kids Informal School and the Bali Life Women’s Workshops for the mums.
The informal school has two classrooms, a library and a play area for children at different levels to come and learn. We also have a large play area and garden for the kids to be kids. The kids come Monday to Friday from 9am and we provide breakfast, lunch, learning opportunities and play, they then return home before 5pm. It is a great program and we have vision to grow it even further. Our future vision is to have a third class for children who want to achieve a formal schooling certificate as well as vocational training for older children to get them out of the streets and gangs and into productive, meaningful work.
Bali Life Women’s Workshop
The Center also has the Bali Life Women’s Workshops for the mothers of the children. In order to get children off of the streets it is vital for them to still be able to earn a wage. The Bali Life Women’s Workshop is a place the women can come and make handicrafts and jewelry for our customers and in turn the mothers are paid a wage. Many of these handicrafts are being sold all over the world. Every day a woman can work is a day her children don’t have to go beg on the streets. If you have a craft idea and a way to sell your idea please contact us to set up a time to meet. Our future vision for this program is to expand into a larger operation with training for youth as well.
The Bali Life street work team carry out twice monthly visit to the streets of Kuta, offering food and clothing, and to assist with the basic hygiene and medical needs of the street beggars. This is also an opportunity for us to see any major needs for kids who may need rescuing from their situation. We aim that through the practical help, love and support shown, they will experience a new kind of love.
* His name has been changed to protect his identity.