The island of Bali is one of the wealthiest provinces in Indonesia. Home to 4.2 million people, most of Indonesia’s Hindu minority live here. A beautiful island drawing tourists from all over the world, an economic boom in recent years has left many residents much better off. A thriving tourism industry now offers opportunities that were previously unthinkable.
These changes have not benefited everyone, and in some places deepened existing poverty. Much land has been bought up by the tourism industry for the purpose of building hotels and resorts, and prices have risen dramatically. Whilst agriculture is the second biggest source of income (after tourism), it is the region’s single biggest employer. Leasing farms has become too expensive, and the idea of a farmer becoming a landowner in Bali is nearly impossible.
As a consequence, many farmers and their families have been left struggling to survive.
Child poverty in Bali
60% of farm workers live below the poverty line. Many parents have been forced to abandon their children with no means to care for them.
Rising rates of HIV/AIDS mean that many children have been left to fend for themselves after the death of parents. Standards in orphanages and care homes in Bali are extremely low, and children left on the street turn to begging and are vulnerable to organised crime.
SOS Children is based in Tabanan, roughly 19 miles from Denpasar, the capital city of Bali, and has the highest rates of HIV/AIDs in the region.
Things have become so bad that the Indonesian government has funded transmigration programmes to get local residents to move out of the region into areas that afford a higher standard of living.
With so much suffering, the Indonesian authorities have been struggling to cope, and the Balinese community has remained unstable.
What is SOS children doing?
SOS Children began working in Indonesia in the early 1970s. As problems have worsened, our activities have expanded to include more families, and we are always adapting to suit the needs of the local community.
Supporting local families
SOS Children first began community work in the region in 2005, working with local agencies to improve prospects for local families. Today, many children in the Tabanan area attend schools on scholarships and look forward to a better future.
We also provide parents with tools to cope. Health counselling, community support and psychological support are the main forms of assistance available to parents struggling to look after their children against a harsh backdrop. We provide childcare services for working parents, and work to strengthen parenting skills and awareness of children’s rights. Our programme also ensures that children living in poverty have access to essential services including education, healthcare and psychological support.
Life in our Village
We believe that children’s development happens best in a loving family environment.
In the tragic circumstances in which children are left without any biological parental care, we can offer loving homes within the local culture; which here is largely Balinese Hindu. We enable children to live normal lives as part of an SOS family in our Children’s Village. School, sport and play are a big part of their lives, while younger children attend nursery with other children from the local community.
Our youth programme in Denpasar delivers vocational training and higher education for older children who are ready to leave their SOS families. Here, they learn essential skills such as decision-making, responsibility and critical thinking from trained, caring professionals. In this way, we give children from Bali the chance of a better future.
Many children in Bali live in desperate poverty. SOS Children is working to giving them the best possible start in life.