Widhya Asih Bali Children Foundation
The Widhya Asih Bali Foundation, linked to the development arm of the Protestant Christian Church in Bali, is responsible for six children homes scattered throughout the island. These children homes care for almost 400 orphans and vulnerable children from some of Bali’s poorest and more remote areas. The children are from all social and religious backgrounds and come to Widhya Asih Bali for a variety of reasons including the death of family members, abandonment, abuse and poverty.
Each children home is a loving and safe environment that provides nourishing food, a hygienic living space, quality healthcare, access to formal education and training in life skills and Christian values. Education is crucial to the vision of Widhya Asih Bali. Children are enrolled in local public schools from grade 1-12. The staff of Widhya Asih Bali believe that education is the best way to ‘help people help themselves to break out of the cycle of poverty’ and to have a happy and fulfilling life.
Currently, Widhya Asih Bali is heavily reliant on overseas donations to cover general running costs. Eighty percent of their budget comes from overseas donations and twenty percent from the local Protestant church. However as Nengah Swikrama, Widhya Asih Bali’s Director, says,”We have a big dream to sustainable, so in the future we can help ourselves”. Some donors are partnering with Widhya Asih Bali so that this dream can become reality. By funding infrastructure development, educational resources, staff training and the establishment of income-generating activities, they will help Widhya Asih Bali make significant progress towards self-sustainability.
Many of the activities that will enable Widhya Asih Bali to be self-supporting are also taught to the children, giving them life and employment skills to help them in the future. Vegetable cultivation, animal husbandry, catfish breeding, music and dance lessons and garment construction are some of the extracurricular activities they are involved.
Below are F.A.Q regarding to Widhya Asih Bali Foundation
Why was the Widhya Asih Bali Foundation first established ?
In the early 1970’s the Bishop of the Protestant Christian Church in Bali was struck by how many children were unable to go to school because of poverty related issues. In 1975 there was no tourism in Bali, there was very little money and few opportunities. So the Bishop and a local pastor began to wonder how they could help. Through the financial support of the Protestant Christian Church they decided to build a number of children homes and schools in Denpasar and Melaya (West Bali). The local government supported them by providing rice for the children but little else (that remains the situation today)
What was the attitude within which it was established ?
The main goal for establishing the Widhya Asih Bali Foundation was to break the cycle of poverty through education. This continues to be the mission today because they believe it is the skills they receive there that will equip them to get employment as adults. Almost twenty children in this program graduated from high school and ten graduated from University. They also provide a scholarship loan, providing funds for study at University which they pay back after get a job. This year five students have applied for this.
How did the children come to be part of the program? What is the selection process ?
Widhya Asih Bali Foundation has a team which checks the background of each child who applies. Their priority is firstly orphans, secondly single parent families, thirdly those in domestic abuse situations, and lastly those living in extreme poverty. They work hard to have strong communication with the family or extended family (if they exist) throughout the process. Their priority is to keep them in their local community as much possible, and only take the children for whom this is the last option.
For those with families, how do you maintain the connection with them ?
All families are invited to come and stay with their children for a night to see what the children home is like. What they find is that parents, when they can, begin to help the children home by paying some kind of donation (there are no fees for families). Students with families would go back home each holidays, around five time a year. If the family cannot afford to transport the child home, they would be given money to get home, or be driven by staff from the children home (which is important to see the home conditions) or the family in some circumstances would come to the children home.
How is Widhya Asih Bali Foundation connected to the local community ?
The children home and schools established by the foundation are physically located within the community. The community bring their children to apply to be part of the program and they now have a large waiting list. The schools, established by the church, now educate children from the community as well. The different development projects the children home are involved in are sold to the local community (such as methane gas, timber for paper production, purified water, animal feed, catfish, clothing, water tanks) and this industry also provides jobs for people from the community. Widhya Asih Bali has a number of volunteers who come in the children home each afternoon who teach a number of different activities to the children. This include things like traditional dance and music, various life skills, English and Japanese languages, dress making and computer training. Widhya Asih has a strong involvement with their alumni who volunteer time, help out and work with the children providing training about life beyond school. Since the Bali bombing, Widhya Asih also now have a ministry to widows, to equip them with skills so that they can find employment.
What development projects are the children homes involved in ?
The hope is to become self-sustainable through various development projects. This includes the following things which they either use at the children home and/ or sell to the local community. Planting trees for paper production, animal husbandry, catfish breeding, poultry farming, methane gas through pig waste, fertiliser throughout goat waste, production of animal feed, garment construction, water purification, building water tanks, vegetable cultivation.
(adopted from Tara’s Bali Tour Diary 2014)