The Story of The Other Side of Bali
Known worldwide for its beautiful beaches and as a tourist destination, Bali is not only Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, and Nusa Dua. Most of the other sides of the Island are in poor condition where many of the people still live in poverty. In some of the big towns in Bali, the appearance of beggars on the streets, shops, restaurants, and sometimes in tourist areas indicate that poverty is still a problem that can cause a bad image for the tourism industry in Bali.
One of these poor areas known as the origin of the beggars in Bali is Muntigunung. Located on the steep slopes of Mount Batur in the remote Northeast of Bali, Muntigunung is the driest area in Bali with no rivers, no spring water, and with poor dry soil. These people have difficult access to water and health-care, with limited income, education and information. Some areas don’t even have electricity because it’s too hard to reach.
The locals said that by begging their income is more than they can make by working in somebody else’s farm. Many people there don’t have land of their own or even a house, and just stay with their landlord. That’s why they finally took to begging as a source of income, and being a beggar has become a tradition from generation to generation.
The government has made several attempts to migrate these people to other islands, but it has failed because the people are Hindus who don’t want to be migrated to Muslim dominated islands. They are enormously bound to their ground, as they believe that the souls of their ancestors are coming back yearly to visit their villages. Although the local government periodically do beggar sweeping in many tourism areas, and some local authorities have claimed that certain tourist areas are beggar-free by putting banners on every corner of the area, it hasn’t been effective yet because the handling afterwards isn’t giving a deterrent effect. They’re still seen and there isn’t any punishment as they are just sent home. There should be counseling for them, and the local government says they are working on it.
There are a lot of things that have been tried in the past few years. NGO’s, foundations, organizations and even individuals have tried to help. Many things are in progress now. Public elementary schools are already free of charge, but some children refuse to go to school due to the far distance and rugged paths. Some parents choose to bring their children begging instead of sending them to school. Bringing their children gives them more money, as people will pity them.
Some of non-profit foundations keep raising awareness about the importance of education to the people of Muntigunung, and they have built some pre-schools for early childhood education. Education is an important factor to break the chain of poverty, as they expect to improve their living standards and not beg anymore.
Another task is to secure and maintain a clean water supply, which will make them able to have clean water nearby so they don’t have to spend hours to collect water from the coast like they did before. They can also irrigate their land, which later will lead to farming. Muntigunung’s dry soil turns out to be perfect for planting cashew nuts, Rosella-hibiscus, palm sugar and Jathropa.
The women are also empowered to produce hats and baskets from lontar palm leaves. These products are sold individually and get distribution help from various organizations. Some hotels also participate by buying these products from the Muntigunung farmers instead of buying them somewhere else from a big factory or importer. Such as the rosella-hibiscus can be made into tea or jam that is served at the hotel. By being able to independently earn money, the Muntigunung people can have a better life and have the confidence to make a brighter future and break the dependency of help and compassion from other parties.
Our CSR ‘Pursuit of A Bright Future’
Bali & Beyond Magazine proudly presents our very first CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program, collaborating with the Economic Faculty of the Udayana University and going to Tianyar Barat, Muntigunung to help for a better and brighter life. Some of the students stay in the area for a month to assist them doing day-to-day activities and observe their needs, while we had a one day visit on March 5 and a kinship conversation with the people, listening to them tell about their daily activities and obstacles they have to go through. From there we can decide what we can do to help and also pass along this information to others.
Our keynote speaker, Bayu Rahanatha, gave an overview of micro business skill and encouraged them with inspirational stories about successful people who started their business from zero, so they don’t give up hope when selling their products and don’t go back to begging. There were around 50 people that came all the way from their remote houses that couldn’t be reached by cars, gathering in the very humble village hall.
We also collected some donations in the form of basic needs like rice, noodles, sugar, cooking oil and clothes. We would like to thank the donating participants for their kind hearted gifts: Level 7 Consulting, 101 Legian Hotel, Intercontinental Bali Resort, Banyan Tree, Juwita Aesthetic, and Wilmix.
We hope that this program will give the community some inspirational ideas and open their eyes to the opportunity to become one of the successful parts of Bali’s tourism industry. We also plan that this CSR program can be continued and held regularly in the future.
Text by Devishanty
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Posted by » Bali and Beyond Magazine