The Togetherness (Kebersamaan) Project has been set up assist rural villages in Bali to kick-start innovative job creations by revitalizing cultural assets such as Ikat, coffee and honey production. Here’s an update on what they have been doing (PS you can help out right now by going here).
As in every corner of the globe, Bali has been hit hard with the ramifications of the COVID Virus and the global and local restrictions surrounding it. In an economy that depends approximately 85% on tourism, this has been a big hit to the Balinese families where most have lost their jobs and income source.
The situation in Bali, from an economic standpoint, has become critical and is getting worse every day.
“Many find themselves uncertain of their ability to make an income for months to come,” they told us. “This has caused a domino effect on the island and the people we love dearly. When the adults look around the compound and see the mouths that need feeding, the hearts that need support, and the elderly that need to be highly protected, there is no wonder they feel lost, scared, and powerless. But we know by coming together, we can stop the downward cycle, stabilize the communities, and thrive in new ways.”
“With the partnerships we have made with local communities using their guidance and the support we have already received, we have started these powerful community initiatives:
- Co-ordinate with Crisis Kitchen Bali Lunch program to cook and deliver lunches to the needy using village crops grown from the Simantri project in Banjar Pesalakan.
- Revitalization of Ikat weaving for income and purpose.
- Creating opportunities for coffee to be grown, roasted, and sold.
- Sustain the honey farmers in Karangasem (who can no longer sell their pure 100% honey by the black bee to tourists and shops – their market is simply gone)
- Recycle Rice Bags – support a needy family in Gianyar
CURRENT COMMUNITIES/ BANJARS SUPPORTED BY THE TOGETHERNESS PROJECT:
PESALAKAN has two major projects underway with the help of local team leaders: MADE ASTAWA – The Head of the Banjar for Pesalakan Village “Employment creation is our number one priority. If we give to one, we give to all. We live by adat (traditional) law, and this is our way”.
IBU PUTU LIONG – Head of village Women’s Rice Community (KWT Manik Mertasari) and Chief of the Weaving Circle. “We all think it’s important to keep the weaving tradition alive. But, more than that, we really need jobs. Our husbands are out of work. Most of them were drivers or hotel workers or worked in cafes and restaurants. We must step up to the mark now.”
PESALAKAN PROJECT 1 – The banjar team is distributing food hampers and necessary supplies to local families in need. This includes food parcels containing rice, eggs, cooking oil and noodles. Vegetables and fruit are grown and shared in the community. The village has also now employed 48 cooks who currently make a hundred fresh food packs every day. These are hand-delivered to Indonesians living in difficult circumstances in makeshift shacks and kos (boarding) accommodation, or on the streets in Kuta and Denpasar.
PESALAKAN PROJECT 2 – Revitalization of Ikat weaving for income and purpose. Three very gifted and talented weavers in Banjar Pesalakan share their weaving skills and knowledge with other women in the village on their old looms. Once the word went out, a number of local women immediately showed an interest. With the help of the donations, extra looms were acquired, and the women bought cotton and silk thread at the Klungkung Markets. Just two weeks later, Pejeng Kangin had re-established its ikat cottage industry.
MUNDUK – A small volcanic rim village once the centre of clove and coffee plantations during the Dutch colonial times. Families have coffee bushes in their land and together they hope to roast on an open fire and distribute to coffee lovers as a way to stimulate the economy for the many families in the village. In Munduk, Covid-19 pandemic has extended the lack of tourism since the Mt Agung eruption scare. The villages, with their 6,000 residents, are in a desperate state to feed their community members. Many families have taken out large bank loans to build tiny homestays to accommodate the increasing tourism numbers and are now dealing with no bookings. Team leader: NYOMAN MANG PRIS – Founder and Leader of the Munduk Trekking Guide Organization. “I’m the six generation of the original people of Munduk who came from the Gobleg kingdom, a strong mountain tribe who migrated after a volcanic eruption that covered their homes and plantations. I am honoured and excited to once again smell the feeling and aroma of fresh organic Munduk Arabica and Robusta beans!”
DENPASAR- Being the capital and biggest city of Bali means that there are many different types of communities and people living in its city limits. Many Indonesians who have come to Denpasar for work find themselves stranded here without jobs, income, or a way home. Our food initiatives are finding their way to the most vulnerable and in need.
BREWA Young men from around Indonesia have come to the village or Brewa (outside of Canggu) to get a job as a “Beach Boy”, teaching tourists how to surf. Since there are no more tourists, they are out of a job and income. Though they usually have a small room they rent for their accommodation, they do not have the means to cook food. The cooked Nasi Bungkus made in Pesalakan Village is becoming a means for their survival. Many of these workers are from Java, Sumba, Flores, Papua and other islands but cannot get back to their villages. They rely on community projects like the one based in Pejeng Kangin, which in turn also benefits the village. Produce for the food packages is provided by local farmers, local cooks prepare the daily food packages, and local drivers help to deliver them to people in need.
TANAH ARON – The name of the place where lava flowed during the 1963 volcanic eruption. Here the refugees are surviving in extreme poor conditions, in makeshift houses often without fresh water or electricity. Team leader: I GEDE ARYA SUBAYU was determined to do something for his village and decided to leave his tourism job in the capital city and return home. He has been teaching the children about environmental stewardship and English. Several years ago, he started a small trekking company to take tourists into the jungles to meet the refugee families who produce traditional honey and do basket weaving. The honey is farmed with their ancestral heritage techniques, starting from the hive, grooming, and harvesting. All is done by hand without any modern equipment. Now without tourists buying the specialty products, Gede thought that their medicinal nectar made from the stingless black bee Apis Trigona could be offered to The Togetherness Project and bring income to this remote community. 13 families have benefited by supplying honey to our Bag of Hope initiative!
TOGETHERNESS PROJECT TEAM
For the project and its initiative to thrive we know that they need to be Balinese lead and expat supported. Because of this we have partnered with local leaders and business people to tell us what is needed so we can support what will work.
EMPLOYMENT: Your funds will go to employing the Balinese. We have so far provided the following jobs: Organic farmers and seedling distribution, 48 lunch pack cooks and 21 delivery drivers, 25 Ikat weavers and loom makers, basket makers, coffee pickers and roasters, recycled rice bag sewer, and for near future we hope to create jobs for tree planters, on-line sales assistance, and marketing agents.
By re-establishing a cottage industry with such strong cultural significance in the village these benefits will live well beyond the life of the pandemic. 100% of the donations go to these Banjar-led initiatives. We are still in the early phases of creating the products so we have established an introductory price for different sizes. Orders from around the world are coming in quickly.
COFFEE FARMING, ROASTING, AND SELLING
We are now in the process of creating the foundational business structure and materials for this initiative. The funds will go to understanding the marketplace, identifying eco bags and labels, employing the coffee farmers and roosters, and creating the first patch of organic beautiful mountain coffee. As of today, 60k have been gathered, roasted and purchased by The Togetherness Project. Now, we need to find a market for the products in Bali, Java and beyond.
To continue what we have started. This is not just a hand-out situation, it is a means to survive without relying on tourism-based jobs. To invest in the revitalization of Balinese cultural assets and utilize the knowledge of the elder population to teach the young the techniques and to obtain the pride in doing so.
If we can get ongoing and festival marketplaces for these products, then communities can keep their ancient traditions alive for a long time into the future. Together with your help, we can assist in maintaining the projects above and introduce more Banjars into the program and we can expand the Lunch Box program to provide immediate food for the needy and increase the local jobs created to do so.
Help out here https://www.gofundme.com/f/togetherness-project-bali