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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Helping the people of Bali deal with COVID-19

Columnist and Australian pioneer of the practice of mindfulness, Charlotte Thaarup, writes about the dire situation in Bali amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Many Australians have a special relationship with Bali and its people.

We visit this beautiful island to experience its beaches, food, culture and the warmth of its people. 

For me, it is a place where the hearts get truly back on line. A place where we can find a different rhythm.

That’s one of the reasons why I chose to have some of my mindfulness retreats in Bali.

But the situation in Bali is dire at the moment due to COVID-19. Not so much the prevalence of the virus but the impact from no tourism. 

For some years, I have worked with the manager of the resort where we hold our retreats on the Kartini project. This project supports young girls to stay at school.

Even prior to COVID-19, a lack of cash meant that, for many young girls, they did not have the choice of continuing their education. 

Ongoing contact with the resort manager made it clear that we needed to extend our program to include boys and anyone in acute need.  

Australian pioneer of the practice of mindfulness, Charlotte Thaarup.

Many people are just trying to ensure they have enough rice to eat and many are looking to a future where they cannot be sure of having enough to eat.  

The resort manager told me of three little boys who are working every day ensuring birds do not eat the rice crop. They get $10 for two months work.

The money goes to pay the family electricity bill. But the boys too now are missing out on education, so we have extended Kartini to include boys too.  

The impact of COVID-19 means I am also hearing stories of families not being able to pay for medication or healthcare.

One family has tragically resigned itself to the fact that their son will die from a tumour because they cannot get him treatment.

The Balinese are our neighbours and we have benefitted by their generous hospitality for a long time. This is an opportunity for us to give back.

Travelling to Bali supports local people. We may not be able to travel to Bali but we have an opportunity to through kindness have a big impact. 

I love that there are no administration costs or other costs associated with running Kartini.  

You can do the same. If you have been to Bali there is a good chance you have the phone number or are friends on Facebook with a Balinese person that you met.

Contact them, check in with them. See how they are doing and support them in whatever way you are able. Even just to listen or to let them know you are thinking of them. They might not need help but they might know of someone who does.  

There are also other charities that are also working with the Balinese which you may prefer to support. 

The impacts of COVID-19 have been very difficult for many Australians but it is good to be mindful of the fact that, for people in other parts of the world, the situation is so much worse.