Bali has a way of wowing you with the beautiful scenery and the facade that you’re exposed to traveling around the countryside. Not everyone seems poor. In fact, poverty is not as in your face as I expected. As we drove down the roads, we saw small, road-side family businesses, service shops for scooters, and stores selling building supplies and wood carvings.
But we soon realized it’s easy to be fooled. By looking a bit harder – and asking a few more questions, we found what many people don’t see behind the buildings on the strip. We saw dirt paths going through the fields to little shacks where the poorest of the poor live. There is no way to get here by car – only by walking or riding a bike. We noticed children walking out from the fields to the strip, holding platters of fruit to sell on the main road. They bathed in the dirty, field run-off that flows by their shack, and would wait at stop signs to beg for money from passing motorists. One particular image sticks in my mind most was of a little girl holding a baby at the side of the road while begging for money. This left a mark on me, and made me wonder why we were here and how we could ever help…
Last week as we sat at Untal Untal, scraping paint off the walls in the extreme heat, soaked with sweat and just counting down the minutes until we were finished, I heard the sounds of two little boys roaring with laughter while playing a game with Popsicle sticks. It was such a beautiful sound…that of kids just being kids…not having to beg for their next meal or work in the fields to support their family. It’s when I realized… this is why we are here…to help them. To support the amazing people and orphanages that are helping get these children out of their horrible situations. They’re giving them the chance to grow up as kids, to go to school and to make something of their lives.
Untal Untal, the other orphanages, and organizations like Developing World Connections are making a huge difference and we’re fortunate that we get to be a part of it.