David Booth, 62, is a civil engineer from England who moved to Bali in 1993 and founded the East Bali Poverty Project. He shared his day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.
I can say, when I die, I can take my wealth in my heart, not in my pocket.
My most enjoyable part of the day is the morning, so I wake up at 5. I love seeing the sunrise and hearing the birds sing; there are so many in my garden. The first thing I do is turn on my laptop and then I go to the kitchen and have a strong coffee. Without that I’m nothing.
I say good morning to my best friend, Romy. He was a street dog and was almost dead when I adopted him. The first thing I thought when I saw him was how gorgeous he was, even if he had no fur. After a few injections and some scrambled eggs, chicken and milk, he was healthy.
My office is only 2km down the road so I get there around 8 and it’s when I have my breakfast. For the past 30 years I’ve always had fruit, so I have blended papaya, bananas and lime, without sugar. I drink at least half a litre of water and take two multivitamins. Then I’m ready to catch up with emails whilst I smoke some cigarettes. I have to say I smoke more cigarettes in my first three hours at the office than I do the rest of the day. People say, “You have to quit smoking; you have all those kids relying on you.” But without them I’d be dead; they keep me alive and I love them.
I contact people at the Ban village, up the steep and arid mountains of the northeast to help with questions staff might have, discuss how we can make things better and talk about new programs. We’ve finished so many programs for high school children over the last year. They had their first art exhibition at the Three Monkeys restaurant in Ubud on June 14. In two weeks, 42 of their Chinese ink paintings were sold. So now we’re trying to get funding for them to have their own studio and gallery up there in the village.
Ban village is the biggest one in Indonesia. It didn’t have any roads, electricity water or health centre until we made it happen.
It was in 1973, when I was working in Nigeria as a civil engineer, that I was inspired by a community that was totally self-sufficient. I said to myself: “One day I will do what the government doesn’t do.” I wanted to help the poor.
The nice thing about my working environment is that people have initiative, they’re creative, have a sense of humour and work in a team. I come from a very poor family that I’m not close with, but my team here is my family. I love Indonesian people and the second week after I arrived in the country, I woke up with a smile on my face and the feeling I’d come home. I think I was born in the wrong place. Now I’m happy every second of every day.
At the end of the day, my satisfaction is achievement. The children in our village recently won the first and third prizes competing with children from other schools in writing their first book. Now I can say, when I die, I can take my wealth in my heart, not in my pocket.
I don’t believe I can fail in anything and I don’t like something that is not challenging. The arid soil up in the village was awful and people thought it was impossible to grow anything in it. But I found a solution for it and now everyone in the school has an organic vegetable garden.
Although I’m a workaholic, my passion is to walk alone and to watch the birds and butterflies in the fresh breeze. It’s where my inspiration comes from and I get so much pleasure in breathing in nature.
When I get home from work, usually around 6, I sit down, have a beer and talk to my dog. I’ll turn the TV on. I have so many channels to choose from, and I watch interesting programs that give me new ideas. I also like to check the news to know what’s happening in the world.
I fall asleep around 8:30. An early night to recover energies for a fresh start in the early hours of the day.Filed under: One Day