The Uplifting Power of Community
Indonesian authorities have warned about an imminent eruption from Bali’s biggest volcano, Mount Agung. The volcano has not erupted in over 50 years, but since September 19 the whole island has been alerted, tremors have been felt and the volcano is being closely monitored. The rest of Bali outside of the 9-12km danger zone is safe and businesses and daily life is functioning as normal. Ubud and other major towns (Sanur, Kuta, Denpasar, Seminyak & Uluwatu) are miles away from Mount Agung and are not in danger.
(Image via BBC)
Over 70,000 people have been evacuated from North East Bali with the help of the Indonesian government, the police, army, the Red Cross and a number of local and international NGOs and outreach programs. These immediate selfless acts of service and generosity to the evacuees has knitted together a strong and supportive community which is felt across the entire island.
Hundreds of people have been working hard to set up basic living amenities and provide food and medical care in the evacuation camps in preparation for a potential eruption. The wider community across Bali has united and is focused on giving back to Bali and its people in every way they can.
Photo via Mount Agung Relief group
COMMUNITY IN BALI
What I have found particularly touching and unlike anything I have ever experienced before, is the sheer effort from everyone across Bali coming together to support the evacuated villagers from the area around Mount Agung. Each banjar (village) you pass, you can see children and young people with banners, playing music for donations for the evacuees. Businesses and centers have become donation sites for food, water, clothes, home-ware and basic healthcare and sanitary items.
Photo via Kopernik
Evacuees are even moving from camps into people’s homes further across the island. Bumi Sehat, a free natural birthing clinic in Ubud, set up by midwife and CNN Hero Ibu Robin Lim, is housing and taking care of pregnant woman and mothers with young babies. Bumi Sehat is also one of the many a donation points, taking supplies up to the camps. Our Bali Regreen team is working in one of the evacuation camps housing people from Songan village, the first site of Bali Regreen’s bamboo reforestation program. Another incredible organization we are supporting is Kopernik who have collected thousands of supplies, are transporting them to the camps, providing medical care and setting up accommodation, showers and toilets for people.
To make evacuees more comfortable, more and more people are opening their doors to house evacuees where possible. Airbnb have shown their support to Bali and announced that if you have an unoccupied room or house in Bali you can list it on their site for free to house Mount Agung evacuees. Awesome right? Find out more here.
I Gede Sartika and I Made Ardana are staff from KAFE Ubud and they opened their doors to people from the evacuated region of Karangasem (below). We at BaliSpirit have provided food to support these families during this time.
One of the stories shared on social media tells about a young mother crying after arriving at one of the new evacuation villages. A friend patted her on the back, trying to calm her down, saying “Be patient, this is a test” but the crying woman replied, “I am not sad because the mountain might erupt, I am touched that we are being treated and received so beautifully by the local community. My things were carried for me, and food was given to me”. Hearing that, her friend’s eyes also began to swell with tears. “May the deeper meaning behind the volcano’s shaking make many hearts become more beautiful, that those who used to be angry will now be compassionate, and make greedy hearts donate to others.”
Although the majority of the island is safely outside of the danger zones, the whole community has pulled together to provide help in any way they can. People are not scared, hiding away or fleeing, they care about the island and the people so they are going to the camps, donating what they can and opening their doors.
The Balinese are one of the most generous and heartwarming people I have ever come across, where family, inclusion and support is at the core of their culture. Families traditionally live in compounds together, often with three generations where everyone eats together, goes to ceremonies together and generally looks after one another. When someone dies in Bali, the entire village comes together to help organize the funeral. Same with weddings, a few hundred people from the village will come and celebrate and show their support for the newly weds. Community is everything in Bali and it is reassuring to feel it so strongly during these uncertain times. Small acts of kindness happen on a daily basis in Bali, my landlord often brings me food and blesses my house with daily offerings and I have had strangers rushing over to help me and drive me home when I fell off my motorbike.
The eruption threat from Mount Agung has only strengthened and highlighted these regular acts of kindness and giving back that the Balinese practice. This is sadly overlooked by many people who visit the island. Beyond the beautiful beaches and temples, the real essence that continues to capture me in Bali is the open, supportive community where spirituality and compassion is truly felt and practiced every day. I believe we can learn a lot from the Balinese and the strength and importance of community, this is the true meaning of practicing yoga beyond the asanas, selflessly serving and giving back to positively impact everyone around you.
Photo via Mount Agung Relief group
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Buying a BaliSpirit Festival ticket gives $40 directly to the Bali Regreen team working in the evacuation camp with the people from Songan village.
If you are currently in Bali, we are collecting donations and working with local NGOs who are providing food, shelter, healthcare and sanitary items, face masks and more. You can make donations at one of our drop off zones:
- The Yoga Barn on Jln. Pengoseken
- KAFE on Jln. Hanoman
- Bali Yoga Shop on Jln. Hanoman and Jln. Dewi Sita
If you would like to volunteer, email [email protected] to connect with our team.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR FESTIVAL CO-FOUNDER, MEGHAN PAPPENHEIM:
“As a Bali loving individual, I am asking you to focus all of your energy on the positive and send prayers to those who are most affected: the Balinese villagers in the evacuation camps… Please note, that there are several international aid organizations and a huge amount of individuals donating time and money to help out. If you are an able-bodied human who would like to assist in evacuation efforts or support the cause of helping to feed, clothe or teach children in the affected areas, you can send an email to our offices via [email protected]. Please send your POSITIVE VIBES to everyone affected in Bali.” – Meghan Pappenheim
The smallest offerings and gestures of goodwill are making profound differences to people’s lives. In times of crisis, we need to work together and practice compassion in action for our community of Bali. This sacred island has affected and touched so many of us and we are there to support Bali, through good and bad.
Written by: Maeve Nelligan