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  • Writer's pictureIsidora Katanic

This was Volunteering in Tianyar, Indonesia

The sound of (no-)silence

Bali? White sand beaches, fancy cocktails, beach resorts? Yeah, I got to experience that buzzing image of Bali on the weekend driving 3-4 hours down south from where I was staying, which isn’t the Bali you would imagine. I stayed in a small fishermen village up in the north and got to experience the island’s pureness, the kindness of the warm-hearted people in the villages, the open armed welcome from the locals and the appreciation from the underprivileged children I was teaching English through music, dancing, games, sports, computer classes and arts.

Super happy me and a few of the school kids

Suddenly “luxury” as I was used to back home (in Switzerland) means nothing to me anymore; sharing a bedroom with other volunteers, sleeping on the shaky top bunk bed, no warm water, weak to some days even no internet connection at all, and don’t get me started about tropical insects and reptiles laying eggs in our bedroom 😉 I permanently had 2 geckos living above my bed, a snake crawling in front of our class room on the playground, a bunch of dogs living on our program camp including a cute puppy and an abandoned 10-days young kitten a few of the other volunteers rescued from the street. We had chicken, roosters and pigs living at the family homes around us. The roosters had their own night parties starting early AM, and even if they keep you awake at night, I started to enjoy the sounds around me.

Children gathering together on the school's playground

It was never quiet, whether it was the children playing outside, the barking dogs, the sound of the waves, the local fishermen returning from the sea with their daily catches or the chit chats in our yard from other volunteers. Every sound was unique on its own. I also finally know why a gecko is called a gecko! They literary say “ge-cko, ge-cko,” another amazing sound of the island I will never forget. On the last night I walked down to the beach, sat alone by the fishermen boats and listened to the calming waves thinking back about the amazing experience I had here at Yayasan Widya Sari and how different it is from back home.

The fishermen boats by the sea in Tianyar village
The beach near our program site, cleaning up together with the kids
Beach clean-up with the school kids and recycling plastic
Boys chillaxing at the scooters in front of school
Better together

About the Program: Yayasan Widya Sari, a non-profit foundation

Yayasan Widya Sari is a non-profit foundation founded by a local family in 2008 with the mission to give underprivileged village children opportunities for education. It’s entirely run by a Balinese family and I got to meet and spend time with most of the family members. They take care of everything themselves, from accounting to cooking, from teaching to managing and all responsibilities that come with running the school and volunteering program. I really have deep respect for how much love and care is put into Yayasan Widya Sari and I would like to thank everyone in the family who made this experience one to remember forever.

Girls in computer class, on laptops donated by Dell
The colorful outdoor class rooms
Daily rain during the rain season
My bed on the top right for 2 weeks
The amazing Indonesian meals cooked by the Balinese family
Playing with the boys with our self created memory cards

Dear Novi, this one is for you girl ❤

“Are you coming back home with adopted kids?” is what my bestie Carli asked me over WhatsApp as she knows my deep love for children. No, unfortunately I can’t take any of these lovely kids home, but I did leave the program with the commitment of sponsoring a girl in my class. Seeing with my own eyes how the entire foundation stands on its feet thanks to donations, I strongly felt I wanted to contribute even when I’m not physically there anymore. My monthly donation will go into Novi’s account to pay for her school uniforms, lesson material, tuition fees and savings for when she goes to university. I truly hope this makes a difference for her and her family and I’m excited to stay in touch with Novi to hear how she’s doing now and in the future. Girl Power!

On Thursdays teachers and students must wear traditional clothes to school
Local police officer teaching the small kids
Kids playing at the beach after beach clean-up
Life is better with LOVE and cuddles!
Valentine's letters from the kids <3

What can you do to help?

There are many ways how we can help one another in this world. No matter how small of a help it is, it will always make a difference to someone. A small action can make a big impact. Whether if it’s helping your friend, a family member, your colleague or volunteering at an organization. If you would like to learn more about Yayasan Widya Sari, you can visit the official website for more information and check out the sponsorship possibilities in case you would like to sponsor a child in this program. I promise you that I have seen with my own eyes that your donation is well spent for each and every child in the program.

What's next?

My next 2 weeks are at a volunteering program in Vietnam, where I'm supporting at an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City. Stay tuned for my next story published on my blog!

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