I can’t believe I have only been in Bali for 48 hours. I was due to arrive Saturday evening however I missed my connecting flight by 30 minutes. Delta Airlines accommodated a group of us at the Hyatt Hotel in Seoul, Korea. The flight was rescheduled for noon on Sunday, arriving in Bali at 6:30pm.
My initial plan has always been to stay at the Orphanage. However three weeks pre my departure, I was informed that due to a change in the government policy, volunteers were no longer able to stay on site. I have since learned more about why this change occurred.
The hotel I am staying at is called “M Suite” located in an area called Seminyak. Lots of shops, restaurants, tourists and the beach is walking distance from my hotel. Considering I was wanting to stay in the hustle and bustle of an Asian city, this $75.00 per night hotel is perfect for me.
However I will admit, that when one is “comfortable” with higher end hotels – ok maybe it’s my 18 years with Fairmont Hotels – I am always a little perplexed when I see some of the simple tasks being overlooked.
As I started unpacking there were no hangers in my closet. On the 2nd evening I returned to my room and I noticed there maybe “2 squares” left on the toilette paper roll (no extra in the room). At the breakfast buffet in the morning there were no napkins to be found anywhere however I noticed there was a box of toilette tissue sitting right next to the chafing dish. BUT there are clean sheets on the bed, a secure safe in room, a door that “beeps” if not closed properly, friendly staff and a great location. SO really nothing to complain about at all. My Hoel is perfect!!!!
The Orphanage is approximately 8.5KM from the hotel. There is an app called “Go-Jek” and each morning and afternoon I will be commuting via scooter. The cost one way is 13,000 Rupiah which is $1.20 Canadian dollars. So far I have had 4 trips via scooter and I always give the driver 2 x 10,000 = total of $1.85 Canadian. Each time they try to give me the change and I simply say, “No, no, please keep.” If you could see the chaos they go through to get me to and from, you would understand that there is no way I could take back the .65 cents.
When I first arrived at Jodie O’shea’s Orphanage, I had to pass through security, showing my passport. Many of the older children had already left for school. Within a few minutes, I had at least 5 or 6 young children, knee height, approach me. They all had smiles and one of the girls put up her arms gesturing for me to pick her up. As soon as I did, she placed her head under my chin, and I honestly felt a lump in my throat.
Several of the staff members had all come out to greet me. Everyone was so welcoming. You would never know from standing out in the alley, what was located behind the wall surrounding this “home”.
There are 93 children in this home. All of them born to parents who simply did not want them or simply could not afford them. Many have experienced abuse, some are the illegitimate children of the Island’s prostitutes while others were simply abandoned. The Orphanage relies on donations and sponsorships to keep it’s doors open.
If there is one thing that is truly felt in this home is LOVE. All the children look out for each other. They are each other’s family. Brother’s and sister’s, of all ages.
For the last year, the youngest child has always been a little girl called Gracie. She is 2 1/2 years old. However a few weeks ago, a boy by the name of Rison arrived. He is only 20 months. I was told that it has been a difficult start for him. I can’t help but every time I look at him I think, “This little guy had a mom (maybe dad) and now he is surrounded by strangers. How does his little mind even comprehend this?” Well that is the part that makes me so sad. He can’t. So of course he is confused, angry, sad, scared and lonely.
At the end of my day yesterday, I was in the kitchen and in walks this confident 20 year old young man named Gyong. He is the oldest one in JO’s and had just arrived back from school. Gyong has been at JO’s for the last 11 years. I don’t know any details however I do know that in the first couple of years he did not attend school. So now he is catching up.
He said to me yesterday, “I simply want to finish my eduction. I am not sure what I will do afterwards but what I do know is that I love sports. You see Kathy, math is not my best subject. I recognize that I am not good at this. So I don’t focus on what I am not good at. If I did, I would be down on myself. So for me, it’s best to focus on where my strengths are.”
Then, verbatim, he said this statement, “Kathy, do you know of Charlie Chaplin? Well he said this quote….”A day without laughter is a day wasted”. I have had some heartbreak in my life so I always think that statement and this one to be true. “Laughter is needed because it is medicine that is free” or something like that Kathy. I can’t think of exactly how it goes. But do you understand what I mean?”
I honestly nearly fell off my chair. I said to him, “Gyong, you have no idea how much I know this to be true.” I touched on my blog name, but at times it just seems so difficult to really explain it all. However it was only day 1, so I am fairly confident I will revisit this conversation with him.
So that was day 1. Day 2 I walked through the door and within 20 minutes I had gained the trust of the little newbie Rison. Pre any of the other volunteers arriving, he and I had started off our morning together. Walking hand in hand, sharing a breakfast roll and starting to build trust. But it still doesn’t take away those moments when I look at his big brown eyes, with the long eyelashes and that damn lump in my throat comes back again !!!!
The owners of the Orphanage have recently asked for all to not post pictures of the children on social media. Of course, I will totally respect that. But I do hope you can picture how beautiful and innocent these children are.
One picture I did take is of the baby’s clothes. When I first walked into their room, I was in “awe” at all the clothes, the organization and of course the kindness of all those who donated these items. To home, feed and clothes 93 kids, it takes a village.
Even today, a young couple from Australia, arrived at the Orphanage. They were in Bali celebrating their 1 year wedding anniversary. Prior to their holiday, they asked family members and friends to make a donation so they could shop at a local grocery store for the children. Tomorrow we will be cutting up all the Watermelon they provided for a snack, and the wonderful ladies in the kitchen will prepare some other food that was donated.
I feel extremely blessed and fortunate that I have been giving this opportunity to work with these children. It is very different from the Orphanage I volunteered at in Taipei. This one is all about making sure the kids are receiving proper education, teaching them life lessons and responsibility, giving them a family and instilling a confidence in them that is personally needed to move forward in this world.
It has only been two days…..my heart is full !!!
I love you sis,