Improving plight of poor children
The article Poverty alleviation program helps the poorest of the poor in The Jakarta Post on May 4, 2000, while drawing public attention to the little-known fact that there is abject poverty in Bali, does unfortunately contain many errors, which I must clarify for the benefit of all concerned.
I should start by stating the vision and mission of Yayasan Ekoturin's East Bali Poverty Project: to improve the lives of disadvantaged children living in abject poverty in isolated mountain communities lacking the basic rights of running water, sanitation, nutrition, education and health care. Our program priorities were decided by the people: "education for our children and better farming techniques so that we can have better lives".
Our pilot "integrated education" program stated on Aug. 31, 1999, for 36 illiterate children in one of the most remote hamlets. Local specialists, tutors and volunteers give classes in nutrition, sanitation/hygiene, organic farming, arts and crafts, as well as providing basic health care and health education. Each child receives a nutritious meal, including vitamin supplements and a glass of milk. The aim: a firm foundation for self- sustainability.
Our second program, for 32 illiterate children in a hamlet five kilometers away, was inaugurated on April 10, 2000, by the Karangasem regent and is funded by a Charity Effort of Bali Dynasty Resort. They aim is to raise sufficient funds for this and the adjacent hamlet, a total of around 80 children. We plan to extend these programs to another five hamlets for up to 500 children during this year if funding is available.
The average annual family income is Rp 400,000 (Ekoturin survey, 1998) and not "Rp 121,500 monthly" as stated in your article.
Construction of "infrastructure of roads, bridges and public toilets" is not in our charter, yet is certainly on our "wish list". However, through kind donations from the Rotary Club of Bali-Taman, and the British Community Committee (BCC) in Jakarta, and with full participation of the community, we have cement- stabilized 1,800 meters of steep dirt tract and commenced erosion control of another three kilometers by planting "vetiver grass".
Public toilets are a long way off, but we hope to possibly introduce composing toilets, or pit latrines to the children in our literacy programs as a first step.
Donors, without which our achievements would not be possible, are far too numerous to list (more than 50 to date) in an article and we regret the Post chose to mention so few. We apologize to the many who were omitted, and hope you will continue to support our efforts.
The British Women's Association of Jakarta, incorrectly identified as "Bali's British Women's Association", does, however, merit special mention due to their outstanding efforts to draw this village's plight to the attention of various groups in Jakarta, resulting in donations from BCC and the American Women's Association, and an ingenious effort of four children at the British International School, whose sponsored 24 hours of silence raised enough money to buy first aid kits for most of our remote communities.
The UNICEF assistance, funding our IDD elimination program will in fact be for 5,000 children and reproductive-age women in this one village, not in "the province's poor villages", as stated.
Finally, Dr. GN Indraguna Pinatih, MSc., along with Dr. Denise Abe, MPH, wife of our Balinese board member, advises on health and nutrition-related problems/solutions, and have not "designed a food supplement program for under fives and school-age kids suffering from acute iodine deficiencies". We welcome inquiries at 0361-419741 or you can e-mail us at: email@example.com.
DAVID J BOOTH
Founder & Vice Chairman