Having fun and doing good…That’s a lesson I’ve learned from Kadek Gunarta. I joined Dek and his team from Bali Regreen on a road trip to a very poor village in north Bali where they are helping to improve the welfare of hundreds of families.
The Bali Regreen Project is led by Dek and sponsored by the Bali Spirit Festival Team. It’s mission is to help improve the lives of villagers by helping them plant and then maintain and harvest bamboo which can be used for village ceremonies and as a cash crop. Also, replanting hillsides destroyed by lava flows and erosion helps to markedly improve the environment.
But the Regreen Project is as much about community organizing and empowerment as it is about planting. Dek and his team work closely with village leaders and farmers to plan the project, implement it and to maintain it. Dek’s Team provides the expertise on how to plant and maintain bamboo, and works closely with farmers over many months and years. The villagers contribute some funding for the projects, but most importantly provide the loving care to the bamboo that it needs to grow.
In addition to bamboo, the Regreen Project recently helped the Songket B villagers build a 9.6 km water pipeline to serve their village. One of the main reasons that this village is so poor is that it lacks adequate water supplies. There has been only 8 liters of water per day per household which is barely enough for drinking and washing with no water available to raise livestock or anything else. Dek put together a plan that included finding a water source, pumps, pipes, water storage, construction and maintenance. The pipeline was built in less than a month, and is now supplying water. When I asked how the water supply has changed their lives, one woman replied that now her family has enough water for everyone to have a bath, and she’s bought some pigs and other livestock which will add to the family’s income.
Of course no Balinese road trip would be complete without a lot of joking and eating. We made at least 3 stops for food at delicious local warungs and ended the day with a feast of Durian, the first time I ate this pungent fruit.