When people think of Bali, they usually associate unforgettable holidays, beautiful beaches, green rice terraces, holy temples and stunning sunsets with this unique island. Despite all those truly amazing characteristics of Bali, there are some other aspects, which most of the short-term visitors don’t get or want to see. There is a huge gap between poor and rich, an enormous social inequality between the people and a lack of affordable education, which is one of the biggest problems on this island. Especially the youngest suffer from poverty, social inequality or familial strokes of fate, as they have no opportunity to help themselves out of this unpromising situation.
Fortunately, there is hope – Seeds of Hope! Asia Exchange is aware of its social responsibility and supports different NGO´s (Non-Governmental Organizations), amongst others there is the children´s home Seeds of Hope. The Balinese orphanage was founded in 2001 by Reverend Tommy and his wife Sandra. Tommy and Sandra are Christians and welcome children of all backgrounds and religions. In July 2001, just 4 months after opening their doors to the children, Sandra suffered a stroke. When you meet Sandra, you will initially notice the physical signs and impact this stroke has had. However, after spending only a short time with her, you will become aware of what a strong and capable woman she is. This is apparent with the fact she has been a ‘mother’ and caregiver for over 500 children in the past 15 years. SoH provides space for approximately 60 children and young adults between the age of 3 to 21 and all of them attend school. SoH is a cheerful place with a warm and loving atmosphere. You can always hear the children making music, singing or playing football around the house. Sandra and Tommy emphasise the importance of education and encourage the children to take part in all positive activities. It is more than just an Orphanage; it really feels more like an extra-large family unit. There is no management or staff, so to speak. Just a big family of people working together.
Like last semester, we organized a visit to Seeds of Hope and it was amazing to see that so many students attended the non-mandatory excursion. Packed with donations, around 35 BIPAS students found their way to the orphanage. Sandra held a touching speech in the beginning, where she mentioned the importance of donations and the awareness, especially from foreigners to keep the place running. Obviously proud, she told us that some of her former children became successful managers, lawyers, teachers and even doctors by now, who are living in Indonesia and abroad. After the speech we had time to get in touch with the children, we played football and basketball, played the guitar, sang songs and drew pictures with the youngest fellows. It was a decent and welcoming atmosphere and everybody seemed to have a lot of fun. Despite some pouring rain we didn´t stop to play football, as it was so much fun with the kids. They have some good skills and are surprisingly well informed about the European football. After just 5 minutes, I even had a nickname, so they started calling me “Ramos” (in tribute to the Spanish football legend Sergio Ramos) for the rest of the day. Of course, I was completely fine with and felt honoured by that. 😀
After some exhausting hours of exercising with the kids, which we really enjoyed, they invited us to have dinner with them. They cooked a delicious meal and so we were sitting all together, eating the tasty food and having funny conversations in English, Bahasa Indonesia, and I was even able to teach the kids some German. The whole day was truly inspiring and an unforgettable experience for me. I was surprised about how well everything works in this children´s home. It was amazing to see how well the children behave towards each other and how older ones take care of the younger. Everybody works together, helps each other and everything seemed to be harmonic at this lovely place. The visit reminded me once again, how lucky I am and thankful I should be, to be born and raised in a safe country with a protected childhood. Special thanks to Sandra; it is so inspiring to see her acting with and talking about the kids. She truly is one of the strongest and ambitious persons I´ve ever met, even though she has this disability.
Everybody who is interested should just go to Seeds of Hope and have a heart-warming chat with its adorable residents. There is no need to worry about fear of contact or reticence as these polite children and young fellows will instantly enchant you with their charm, sense of humour and curiosity. I will definitely visit this lovely place again, there is no doubt – Mr. Ramos will be back! 😀
Please visit the website of Seeds of Hope for any further information, donations or contact details.