In 2005 while in Bali, Australian landscape gardener Brad Little came across a nine year old boy begging for money and living on the streets of Kuta.
Aside from begging him for spare change, the boy also asked Brad to live with him, in the hope of getting off the streets and subsequently gaining an education. Heartbreakingly at the time, Brad and his then pregnant wife, Siska, were not in a position to take the boy in. Brad returned to Australia with a resolute determination to find a way to help Balinese street children. Soon after, backed by a number of generous donations and a crew of dedicated volunteers, Brad started Bali Life – an orphanage which currently provides housing for some 21 homeless children – acting as a sanctuary by providing them with essential food, shelter, education and healthcare. Local Master Builder, Dallas Brown, volunteered to work alongside Brad as Project Manager for Bali Life. Over three years, Dallas has travelled back and forth to Bali, devoting his time to oversee and help build a purpose-built dwelling for homeless children. FOCUS caught up with Dallas to talk about the Bali Life project.
The Bali Life purpose built home will ultimately accommodate 64 street children. Could you please tell us about the five phases of the project?
A block of land was initially donated by some very generous wealthy people. We broke the building work down into stages, as it was a bit overwhelming to try to raise funds for the entire project at once. The actual building design is in five stages. The first two stages comprise the actual children’s accommodation and toilet facilities, with the third stage providing kitchen and dining facilities, plus offices and staff accommodation. These three stages complete the children’s home, which houses 64 children at full capacity. The fourth and fifth stages provide for education and training facilities and finally, a community-type hall.
Australians love to visit Bali as a holiday destination. Although it may be recognised that poverty exists, the dire situation regarding orphaned and abandoned children is largely unknown …
The sad thing is that we often think of Bali as a commercialised tourist destination and yes, there is a lot of glamour and glitz to Bali, but the darker side is basically brought about as a result of tourism. Village people flock to Kuta and built-up areas to find work, which creates overcrowding. Consequently, with overcrowding, there becomes a lack of accessible work, and kids sometimes get abandoned due to poverty. Bali Life is providing children with the bare essentials, including shelter, healthcare, education and skills, so that children can ultimately look after themselves and have a good life. We hope to provide some vocational preparation and to pass on skills. We are really trying to help these children to get a university education, so that they can become professionals and future leaders.
Who is conducting the work?
Wherever possible, we try use local contractors to help oranise everything. To be able to provide employment is great. There have been up to 20 local guys who’ve been employed on site, which means that 20 local families are, in turn, being fed.
There is a happy ending to one aspect of this story, isn’t there?
In 2010, a Balinese lady found a young boy living on the streets, who was in a terrible condition. The woman aided the boy back to health, following which she set about finding him a permanent place to stay. Bali Life had one vacant bed left and happily provided it to the boy. Over time, it became obvious that this boy was the one Brad had met in 2005, who inspired the birth of the children’s orphanage.
How can people get involved?
To find out more about Bali Life Foundation or make a donation, visit: www.balilife.org