Feisty Friends Down Under

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

CALOUNDRA, Australia ~ “A sarong! What would I want with a sarong?” enquired my good friend and restaurateur Sally Honan. “Aren’t sarongs the fashion choice of aging hippies? And you want to sell sarongs in my restaurant as a fundraiser?”

“Aha, how little you know,” said I, in a manner suggesting immense knowledge in all things sarongs (definitely not aging hippies). “Yes, sarongs. Do you have any idea just how many uses there are for the humble sarong? And I don’t mean as an out-of-place, unfortunate fashion choice, wraparound thingy over tired bods, but as a functional, positively glamorous wrap which can be used to pick up the mangiest puppy or kitten on the streets of Bali.”

As Sally’s eyes crossed and I knew I had her 100-percent undivided attention, I explained how I had come to the fundraising idea.

My good friend Patria Jannides, whose fabulous photos I often use for this column, was the one who gave me the idea for the BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – fundraiser and the information evening for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival on my return to Australia.

Patria had asked her hairdresser if she could sell sarongs in his salon in Brisbane to raise money for BAWA and far from being the doubting Thomas that my less-than-smart chefy friend Sally was being, he said: “She could and he would” and would even go one step better – she could sell the sarongs and everyone who bought one would go in a draw for a haircut and color in his salon. The 30 sarongs were sold out in a blink.

So when I approached, Sally and Skye, the partners in this gorgeous beachside restaurant, Saltwater – smack on the beachfront at Kings Beach, Caloundra – to sell sarongs as part of my fundraiser, their response after my convincing explanation was: “Yep! And we’ll throw in a prize of a dinner for two, too – and we’ll donate back $10 for every $20 that each guest pays on entry!” Their generosity was more than I had expected.

“Where is Caloundra and why would I be there?” you ask. Caloundra is a seaside resort town on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast in Southeast Queensland and is the place I’ve called home for the past 25 years before my move to Ubud last year.

Noosa at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast gets all the publicity because it’s the choice of celebrities. But I married and moved to Caloundra in 1983 and raised my three wonderful children in this beautiful place and I am very grateful that I did because over the years I’ve made friends of people who came out on a dark and stormy night to support my fundraising venture for the Bali street dogs and cats and to find out about the Ubud Writers & Readers festival.

Actually, I was more than a little hesitant about asking for donations for these Bali foundations. You may or may not know that Australia has just experienced the worst bushfires in history. The loss of lives, both human and animal, and of homes and property has been dreadful. No one has been able to pick up a newspaper and stay dry-eyed when reading the horrific stories. They are calling it Australia’s Black Saturday.

However, it became very apparent that people were happy to come along and enjoy an evening at Saltwater and to buy the sarongs. What was even more wonderful were the businesses owners in the main street of Caloundra who, unsolicited, also offered to donate prizes. Instead of one prize I ended up with a dozen gift vouchers. So the evening was set – buy a sarong and win any number of prizes. Books, jewelry, accessories, flowers, clothing and so much more.

On the afternoon of the event, rain started falling. It came down so heavily it was impossible to see a foot in front of you and as we drove towards Saltwater, cars were pulling over to avoid accidents. There goes my fundraiser, I thought.

Talk about the parting of the water. As we arrived at the restaurant the rain stopped. It stopped long enough for me to get my precious laptop and the bag full of beautiful Balinese sarongs into the restaurant – then it came down again with a vengeance.

The rain fell so heavily that you could hardly hear, but as people started arriving I was completely bowled over by the numbers – my friends and their friends and to my surprise and delight the numbers climbed to 10 more than even the most I had expected.

The night was a success. Well, not a Hollywood Oski or Bob Geldof huge success but definitely a great night by my small-town standard. We raised over $1,000, and we certainly raised the awareness of the plight of dogs and cats in Bali.

There are no street dogs in Australia. If a dog is wandering the streets the council dog catcher will pick it up and take it to the council pound. If the dog isn’t claimed within three days, the dog is euthanized.

Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to work but no one reckoned on a group of Sunshine Coast residents who stepped in some 30 years ago and formed the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge Shelter, SCARS. Look out for their story next week. But in the meantime, save a Bali street dog today. Donate or volunteer with BAWA – www.bawabali.com.

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