BEGONA-LOPEZ

‘Making the world a bit more just is my drive’

Begoña López, 47, is a social worker from Spain. She moved to Bali ten years ago and founded the Kupu-Kupu NGO, helping people with physical and mental disabilities to have a better life. She shared her day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.

Every morning I wake up at 6:30 and the first thing I have the urge to do is turn my computer on. I then prepare breakfast for my four year old daughter. I’m a coffee and bread lover so I will have these two things every morning. No rice for me, it’s a Balinese tradition that I’ve never got used to and I don’t believe I ever will. I don’t dislike rice but I prefer to have something sweeter in the morning.

When I first arrived to Bali there was no bread selection, but this has changed for the better in the last few years. You just have to know where to find it as they don’t sell good bread in most places. I particularly like farmer’s wholemeal sliced bread that I can get from Delta supermarket here in Ubud. I like to spread some butter and jam over my bread or simply eat it with some bananas.

Bread brings back old memories of my youth in Spain. It’s something homely as they used to make it in my house when I was a little girl.

I do a great part of my job from home as all I need is my computer. I’m very dependant on the internet because to raise funds for the NGO I need to be constantly in touch with the outside world. I check e-mails, put projects together and send information off.

I live right next to our Kupu-Kupu centre in Ubud, so I walk to work and it takes me two minutes to get to the office. I get to work around 9 when there’s a special activity going on and I coordinate everything. Otherwise I do my work from home and turn up in the afternoon. If someone has a physical disorder we teach them all sorts of subjects. But if they’re mentally challenged, then we just teach them up to where they can accomplish. They learn through playing and they draw a lot.

I love my environment at work and the people that work with us. We’re 14, mostly locals, but we also get help from foreign volunteers that support our cause. We try to improve the lives of people of all ages with physical and mental disabilities. Although we help people all around Bali, there are 35 people who come to our centre on a regular basis.

I generally have lunch at 3pm, so I haven’t lost that Spanish tradition yet.  I eat at home as it takes me three minutes to get there and I love cooking Spanish omelette and all types of refreshing salads. It’s the best for this climate. I also prepare lentils because my family loves them. When I have time, I try to do a little siesta, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.

What I like most about my job is helping people. I founded the NGO because I thought the world is unfair. Making the world a bit more just is my drive. Some Balinese people had never even seen a wheelchair or left their homes; some had never even learned how to read. I thought it was unbelievable that things like that could still happen nowadays. In Bali there are 13,000 registered citizens with mental and physical disabilities. I believe there are many more although they are not recorded.

So here we are, helping out those who really need it for free. We have just opened another centre in Bangli after doing field research and finding out about the needs of people with disabilities. More than 80 people don’t have a bathroom in that area and one of our aims is to raise funds to build them.

Our staff leaves around 5pm so after that I go home. But my work doesn’t finish there. Although I’m a very busy person I like to find some time off work to walk around the rice fields with my daughter.    They are what made me fall in love with the island. I also love Balinese music and enjoy watching Balinese dance. One of my favourite places to go to is Penglipuran village, because it maintains its traditional atmosphere and there are no roads or cars.

I also like to have a late dinner like we do back in my country. So I prepare something around 10 and then watch some TV before I go to bed. I’m not a great fan of the TV programmes over here, but it’s nice when I occasionally find a good movie that helps me relax before my eyes start shutting down.

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