Viebeke Lengkong, from Jakarta, moved to Bali 40 years ago and was a cofounder of the Friends of Bali organisation right after the Bali bombings. She’s now programme director of I’m an Angel, a charity supported by the funds raised by Seminyak restaurant Ku De Ta. The organisation helps to improve the lives of those who can’t afford to cover basic needs and focuses particularly on the development of children’s education. Viebeke shared her day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.
I’m not an early riser and I usually wake up at 8 or 9, but if people need me I’ll wake up at 3 or 4am. My assistant, Nyoman, is my alarm clock. She’ll come in several times until I eventually wake up as I always ask for five more minutes. If I don’t wake up early I won’t see the children at school as they start at 7. When I want to talk to the community I talk to the children. It’s important to see the children’s condition to see what the condition of the community is.
The first thing I think of is the children and the community. I’ve seen images that are not easily forgotten and they come up to my mind. Our ideas are not always what they need for their lives, so I think of what we can do to make things better for them.
I get out of bed and I drink two glasses of still water. I read a Japanese article once that said when you drink three glasses of water before you even brush your teeth in the morning, it’s good for you. So I tried it and it became a habit. I only drink up to two and a half glasses as I don’t like drinking so much water, but it’s good for the system.
I then hang my body from a bar in front of my room for about 15 seconds to stretch and I then go to my studio at home, where I work from. I switch on my computer and go to the living room and read national and local newspapers. I take Crypto Max, a pill that has different vitamins and supplements for the body. It’s better than taking one pill for each thing.
Half an hour after drinking water, I have my breakfast while I’m reading. Nyoman decides what I’m going to eat. She controls my life totally and has for the past 10 years or more. She decides what I have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Otherwise my mind would not be focused. It’s easier that way. So I’ll have some muesli with yogurt and some fruit in it, normally pineapple, bananas and cranberries. I drink a weak caffé latte and then I either take a shower before going to the office or I first check my emails, swim a few laps in my pool and then shower.
I have people coming very often, just before midday. They might want to develop a programme so we exchange information and I see what I can do for them. They normally stay for lunch, which is at 1, and we discuss the programme until around 3. Nyoman might prepare some nasi bungkus. I like to eat everything but one thing I never do is mix flavours. So if I’m eating fish I’ll just have that until I finish and then I’ll switch to something else.
Design and building is my main job and I deal with property, generally my own property. I look for guests to stay at my villas and check that everything is working properly in them. I don’t see I’m an Angel as my job; it’s a habit. I plan the percentages we are going to spend on different areas and I supervise the villages we work with.
Even when I have free time my mind is still working. I’m always thinking about the development in the community and about politics. I read and watch the news on politics as I’m in touch with politicians, so I need to know what’s going on.
Politics is life strategy but some have turned it around to serve their own interest. Indonesia is still learning about politics and democracy. The government has done a lot, but the biggest problem with the system is the incompetence of some politicians.
I’m Indonesian and I’ve lived abroad, in London, Switzerland and New York. I can see the differences between governments and as a whole. I know I can’t make a lot of change but with the little bit I give, I can make people happy.
In the evening I do 30 laps in my 15-metre pool and then dinner depends on Nyoman. If she thinks I’m eating too much she’ll give me an apple; if she believes I can eat more she’ll give me a plate of Balinese salad. She’ll put on a Japanese dressing that I really like: its taste is in between Europe and Asia, sweet and sour. She sometimes blends papaya with garlic, as it’s good to lower cholesterol. Not that I have high cholesterol but if she makes it I’ll have to drink it, even if it tastes funny.
I usually try not to eat after 6 or 7, unless I’m invited somewhere. If I eat at night I can’t sleep. I then like to watch local TV, particularly Special Dialogue on Metro TV; it’s about politics. I fall asleep around midnight thinking about the children and the community and I realise the more I live, the more I see that they don’t have a chance.Filed under: One Day