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Sam Wilding Bali Visit – Part 2

Sam Wilding Day 2 – A Window On Another World

Challenge Questions

1. Why are the new toilets so essential in Bali Village?

2. What size can the Giant Wood Spider web grow to?

I’m going to record the audio outside, just give you a flavour of the jungle setting of our volunteer house. So apologies in advance for the racket. So off we go to the East Bali Poverty Project HQ, up in Ban village. The roads are pretty rough and you tend to spend most of your time trying to avoid being battered off of the windows and roof of the truck. Ban village must be one of biggest villages in the world, covering over 71.2 square kilometers. About a third of the size of Glasgow.
Once inside the charity HQ we are introduced to the various medical and teaching staff and produced a plan to visit the six schools that are scattered all over the slopes of the Agung and Abang volcanos.

The road up to Cegi School, our first destination, is said to be one of the best, but we still had jungle-covered cliffs falling away from the track and an almost uninterrupted wall of giant spider webs either side. More about the giant wood spider later.

It’s fair to say that since The East Bali Poverty Project started up in Ban, things have really improved from a health and sanitation perspective. Many of the villages now have road access, new schools and a much improved infrastructure. However it’s import to realise that this has all changed in just 16 years. In Scotland the same transition from a very ancient lifestyle took around 16,000 years.

Cegi school, pronounced Chegi, is just opening up when we arrive. They have to leave plenty of time for the students to get to school from the various mountain locations, as people are very spread out. Most children get up at 5am and go out to cut grass for their cattle. These bundles are then perched on their heads and taken home. After this the children make their way to school by foot, often for an hour or so, before cleaning the school grounds and rooms. They sweep the outside and inside areas with palm brushes. They may have breakfast at the school before saying their prayers and giving thanks at the school shrine. After all this they arrange their seats for class.

I began my first school session with some of the artwork produced by the children back in Scotland. We talked about kilts and clans, monsters and legends and then about writing stories. I used an imagination game from one of my workshops, which I replicated here with the aid of a translator, to draw out some original stories from the children themselves. Both in Cegi and in the next school we visited, Darmaji, the children’s drawings and ultimately the stories they produced were extraordinary. They came up with a tiny creature called a cedwa and 150m high monster called a Bekbet, that would crawl out of the volcano at night and eat small children. Nice

The main reason I came across to Bali in the first place is because the children in Ban had used the Tiffy & Toffy picture books to practice their English. In the past UNICEF, Asthma UK, Glasgow the Caring City Charity and various charities working in Uganda have used the books for teaching young children. The children in Ban used the books at their Independence day ceremony back in August 2014 to demonstrate their reading skills to the whole area.

Features and Creatures.

Today’s feature is going to be the traditional gubuk – a single roomed bamboo house. The are signs of change everywhere. A few yards back from the schools, however, many of the people still live completely in their gubuk. This is where they eat, cook and sleep as a whole family. These structures often have an outside sitting platform, raised above the ground to protect from snakes and insects, and the gubuk itself is usually are no more than 3m x 4m square. These gubuks are slowly being replaced by a lava and concrete block mix construction. I also saw a blend of the old and new accommodation, where the project out here were building much needed toilets beside the gubuks. Proper toilets prevent disease and dirt from spreading and actually save lives.

Today’s creature is that giant wood spider I talked about earlier. Around 20cm long, it has a web that is often over 2m in diameter, which often traps small birds as well as a whole variety of insects. I’m told that it does bite by the people here and that it’s the females I’m seeing all along the roadside on their umbrella-sized webs. The males are a fraction of the size.

Finally my Indonesian phrase for today is – Hati Hati – which means – ‘take care’.

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