Diva charity lunches and its inimitable founder Christina Iskandar set the benchmark for Bali charities. Now they’re up in Oz too.
Who says that divas are all about themselves? For 10 years now, Bali babes have been gathering at the famed Diva Charity Lunches to eat, drink, socialise, network, and raise money for organisations that help Balinese people in need.
You’ve probably heard of these luxe lunches that take place at iconic venues and feature raffles and auctions where you can score fab prizes from some of the islands best resorts, restaurants, and retail shops. What you may not know is that the lunches were single-handedly founded by one determined diva.
Christina Iskandar’s love affair with Bali began when she first arrived on the island in 1983. Like many visitors from Australia and further afield, she found that one short trip soon turned into numerous visits, and eventually she decided to settle here. The deal was sealed when she married her Jakarta love, with whom she now has three sons and two grandchildren.
Always the social butterfly, Christina developed countless connections over the years and immersed herself fully in her adopted home. Contributing to the community was par for the course for this former Sydney-sider, but one experience urged her to get more involved.
She says, “I started raising awareness 10 years ago. The seeds were always planted in my soul, but the need to make a difference became very apparent when I first visited YPAC Institute for Handicapped Children in Jimbaran.”
YPAC is a residential school for children with physical and mental disabilities. Founded in 1975, the school supports approximately 55 children aged six to 22 years old with education and social assistance. The school also helps to integrate the students into the wider community by finding suitable work placement after the students finish their studies.
Christina decided that the best way to help YPAC was by doing something she loved and was good at – organising social events. The first Diva Lunch took place at Biku with just eight women who came together to enjoy great food, drinks, and conversation, all while raising money for the children at YPAC.
The first lunch was such a success that Christina immediately began organising more, and it wasn’t long before the gatherings grew into glamorous sold-out galas at venues like Ku De Ta, Jemme and Merah Putih with sponsors like Moët & Chandon and Cocoon Medical Spa.
Christina says, “I feel that the lunches brought together a community of like-minded women who had something to really look forward to: meeting new friends, connecting, networking and being able to make a difference while doing so. So many solid friendships were made at these lunches.
“To date we’ve helped over 50 organisations. Some of our biggest successes include being able to raise IDR90 million for the Suryani Institute for Mental Health. We also started doing Diva Lunches in Australia, and our latest lunch in Sydney raised A$60,000 for the Bali Children Foundation.”
Just recently, Christina registered the Diva foundation as an official incorporated association in Australia, which means that Diva Charity Inc. will have an even broader scope to continue throwing fab events to help Balinese organisations and people in need.
Christina says, “The lunches started in Australia three years ago and the response has been phenomenal, especially considering some of the ladies haven’t even been to Bali. We are thrilled to be able to tell them from our experience what an amazing little island it is.
“Becoming a registered charity is also a dream come true. It feels like our 10 years of hard work and dedication has paid off, and we now have a voice to decide who we can help. It also means having an incredible group of like-minded board members.”
The Diva lunches and parties are still a regular occurrence in Bali, the most recent being the Diva 10th Anniversary Sunset Soiree at W Bali Seminyak in June, which raised money for the John Fawcett Foundation. Keep an eye on the Diva Charity Lunches Facebook page for info on upcoming events in Bali.
And if you happen to be in Sydney this autumn, the Divas & Dudes Charity Lunch will take place on November 30th at Dockside Darling Harbour and feature a three-course lunch, free-flow beverages, entertainment, special celebrity guests, best-dressed prizes and more all in support of YPAC Bali.
Even with a full social calendar, a divas’ work is never done. Christina says, “Planning forward we will be looking at a much-needed refurbishment of the run-down living quarters for the YPAC children and offering trained physiotherapists and paid education. God willing commencement will happen in April 2020, something the DIVAS are so looking forward to making a reality.”