Helping Balinese Out of Poverty

By Henry James

Contributor | The Bali Times

CEPAKA, Bali ~ Asana Viebeke Lengkong is a remarkable woman, one who doesn’t permit much comment about herself, suffice to say that she sees herself purely as a facilitator for the poor and uneducated people of Bali.

“We do not give; we share. And with this strategy, we empower the community to think and help themselves,” she says.

This philosophy, while simple enough, is sometimes difficult to implement, and Viebeke is constantly seeking the support of local and offshore benefactors, together with the Indonesian government, for both physical and financial support.

One example of Viebeke’s success is the commencement of construction by the local community of a 700-meter pathway that will eventually connect the village of Les in northern Buleleng Regency with its remote hamlet of Dusan Butiyang.

The community estimated that 60 days would be required for the construction, with two days a week given to the project by the villagers. Funding came from the likes of I’m an Angel, Ku De Ta and students in the United States.

On a recent trip to the area, I saw the progress that had been made, and it was inspiring to see mothers and fathers and their children all bandying together for the common good. The community spirit was very much evident. While the men dug out rocks, leveled the pathway and poured concrete, the women cooked and fed everyone. All of the earth that’s removed is carried up the steep incline, and large rocks are manually crushed to size. With this project, this tiny community has opportunities to broaden its horizon and improve itself.

If Viebeke can achieve her goals, she will see poor communities begin to benefit from their own involvement in providing, for example, better drinking water by the implementation of maintenance programs for existing supplies; construction of water-storage facilities; and adequate healthcare services, including mobile clinics and introducing more nutritious diets for children.

Education is another pivotal area when it comes to alleviating poverty, and children in poor areas of Bali need textbooks, pens and pencils and school supplies, as well as repairs to the schools themselves. During the past three years, Viebeke and her small group of volunteers have been assessing the needs of 2,788 students of a total of 4,000 in the Serana district of Karangasem alone.

For Viebeke, the satisfaction of having made a difference for at least some of the underprivileged people of Bali, and by offering them the opportunity to build a better life for themselves, is all the thanks she needs.

Filed under: The Island

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