We have finished teaching English at Goa Gong, but once a week Sue or Feny join our volunteer, Ellen, to another community in Bayu to teach English again and build relationship with these women so they can know about our centre and the safe place of learning that we offer. Through our relationship with the women in Goa Gong, two boys have joined us for learning some basic education skills with Feny twice a week. Through these lessons, they will gain the foundation of learning so that they can be accepted into formal school and be set on a path to a brighter future.
In June, we had a visit from a husband and wife – Michael and Cheryl – from Sydney, and they blessed our women with haircuts and new styles. The mum of one of our boys who come for lessons, Ibu Adel, is usually a very quiet, withdrawn girl and lacking in confidence. I was able to pick her up and bring her for a haircut that day, thanks to the independence from having my own transport. After getting her new hair cut, Sue found a dress that had been donated, and it fit her perfectly. When she looked into the mirror, she exclaimed in surprise, “I’m beautiful.” The girl who climbed on my bike in the morning, climbed off it completely transformed and confident that afternoon when I brought her home. Thank you for regular donations that help us build confidence and smiles in these women.
Through my visits each Wednesday helping at the street centre, I just fell in love with those kids and mums. I grew a vision for how to help grow the lessons and program there. See the kids in school, off the streets, breaking the cycle of poverty for them. I prayed and talked with mentors and as of June 15th, my ministry in Bali Life has moved from Ungasan with the Children’s Home and Women’s Centre, to Denpasar, working with the Street Centre.
We have two classes, and I teach the younger, or lower level, students. I am teaching letter-sound recognition and joining letters together to make words, and forming letters and words on paper. Also some mathematics – number symbols, counting, addition and subtraction, and other basic level math. I also teach English to the mums and kids in both classes each week. We also hope to bring more to the program by including some more character-building activities. We’ll play group games, share stories, and sing songs. All to impart into the children on a deeper level than just regular education.
At the end of July, Sue, Feny and I visited the local primary school and invited the kids to learn English for a small fee (to cover books, pens and other resources we provide), at Bali Life Women’s Centre. Their response was overwhelming. It quickly grew from 11 children the first week, to two classes with 20 children enrolled in each group five weeks later. Plus a waiting list with 5 children waiting for spaces to open up. This is one of my favourite days to teach as these kids, unlike Bali Life kids, do not know Jesus and I get to slowly introduce Jesus to them. Over the past 6 weeks we have covered: Colours, Days and Months and together learned the colourful coat Joseph received because his father loved him. We also learned the story of Creation and how God made something new each day of the week.
…the kids continued coming
…and we had to expand! (2nd group)
As mums came in to the Bali Life Women’s Centre for their children to learn, they began asking about lessons for themselves and we quickly told them about our English Classes on a Tuesday. So we have two classes for these mums on a Tuesday.We have a morning class, for mums to come to learn while their children are at school. As well as another in the evening, for mums who may have a day job.
Between my morning class and my evening class, on Tuesday afternoons, I travel about 15-20mins away to a village called Guagong and visit a community of poor women who live together in a kost-kostan (compound) and teach these five in their home. They are all between 20 and 30 years old with young children, most under 5years old. These women are so eager to learn so that they can help their children when their children go to school. A few weeks ago we were also able to bless these women with some vegetables from our garden at the Women’s Centre. We hope to provide them with a basic first aid kit and medical supplies – like betadine and children’s panadol – as they have nothing available to help, when their children get injured, and no finances available to buy these supplies for themselves. In addition to teaching them English, we spend some time with their kids, and despite having nothing, the kids are full of so much love for life.
Bali Life has two volunteers from Holland with us for two months. They are helping out in various areas, farming and with kids wherever they can lend a hand. They have also come to help at the women’s centre to teach computer skills to some of the women who want to build skills. We are praying for a long-term computer teacher for these women, as after two months, they will be without a teacher.
In addition to teaching computer to women on a Thursday evening, these guys spend some time with kids, from Thursday’s KidZone. On a Friday afternoon they organise playing games and having fun competitions with the kids. The kids had a ball the first two weeks and are looking forward to the next one.
Speaking of competitions, kids LOVE them. In August we celebrated Indonesian Independence Day. It was great seeing Bali Life Kids and KidZone kids join together for some fun competitions. Like their traditional Krupuk eating contest, or a balloon race and obstacle course.
I wrote this poem ‘Dear Earth’ as a cry to the world. I was in my early twenties. Social justice was high in my thoughts. It’s not fair if so many people suffer while so many other people are greedy and wasteful. It would be nice if there was no citizenship except that we all belong to the same earth and we all look after each other as well as we are able. No one person controlling all. None with out, none with abundance, but a balanced life.
I was sitting in Centrelink with my sister and looking around at all the people waiting there. It made me go back to college days when we had to write a list of all the people in our lives by category. Intimate friends/family, other friends, and acquaintances. As I looked around I saw many faces that weren’t even acquaintances. I realised, by category, they were strangers.
How distant and sad that word is. We teach our kids about stranger danger and keeping away from people we don’t know. As if the lady playing with her baby in line behind us is out to get us all. I’m sure she has better things on her mind. Strangers aren’t dangers. There can be dangerous people out there, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid all people we don’t know. When I looked around, these strangers weren’t dangerous or scary. They actually looked just like me or you.
Regular people with regular lives. Some old, some young, some with kids, a friend or partner, some had tattoos or rings, some had nice clothes, some raggy, but take away what they had or where they were, they were just the same as me or you.
What if instead of avoiding strangers, we taught our children to love them? By all means, teach safety, but teach them to love above all. These people are just that: people. They have friends, family and a life. They might have dreams or struggles, wants and needs. The biggest need of all is their need for their saviour.
What if instead of teaching our kids to avoid strangers, we taught them about love. Get to know them, encourage our children to talk to the person waiting in line with them. Get to know their names, where they live – maybe not actual home address, but local or perhaps they’re someone travelling through. People live in such a secluded world nowadays. We need to get back to the idea of community. The world isn’t a scary place. It wasn’t intended for that. Get back into the flow of making friends and getting to know people around you.
And don’t try saying, “I wouldn’t know where to start.” Usually a “Hi, my name’s ___, what’s yours?” Goes a long way. And even if you get a strange look every now and then, keep trying and talk some more, to others around you. You don’t have to become everyone’s best friend, but let them know that you’re not a scary person, and hey, they’re probably not that scary either.
Aren’t we called to go out and reach others? Yet we can’t do that if we live in our bubble wrap society with like-minded people, only. Note that last word. Only. It’s good to have like-minded people, but if they’re the only ones around us, then who are we reaching out to? There’s a lonely world out there, just wanting to know that they are loved. They aren’t alone and there is a God. That God is good and he loves them. Let’s start being disciples and sharing God’s love with the world. Starting with those around us.