Get Your Roam On with the KyArdi Project Indonesia
I’ve recently returned from an incredible week working with the KyArdi Project Indonesia in Bali and am feeling truly grateful, content and inspired. I’d followed the KyArdi Project closely on Facebook and had raised some much-needed funds for the project prior to my trip and when presented with an opportunity to travel to Bali and see firsthand the amazing work they are undertaking, was incredibly grateful when my suami (husband) agreed to me taking a weeks’ paid annual leave from my Mum duties (insert laughing emoji here!). He knew that I’d found the transition to motherhood particularly difficult and missed my travel days and was also mindful that I’d always wished to pursue a career in international community development so not only agreed, but thought it was a great idea. I was beyond excited, however also felt the rotten Mother guilt, about my pending trip but could not anticipate the enormous impact my week away would have or that I would finally discover a purpose I’d been searching for. Perhaps a bit Eat Pray Love-ish?!
The important stuff
The KyArdi Project Indonesia is a not-for-profit humanitarian organisation founded in 2016 by a divine couple, Kym and Ardi, who are working against the odds to empower women and children living in remote mountain villages in and around Lovina and Tinga-Tinga on the North West coast of Bali. Their mission is to provide food, sanitation and a safe living environment for children, particularly those who are risk of sexual abuse or of being rented, sold or contracted as a wife throughout Indonesia and international paedophile rings. An utterly hideous and inconceivable thought, isn’t it? But it’s happening here, in the ever popular and beautiful Bali, and other areas of Indonesia. Only a few hours away from Australia. Not even the locals know about it, or so I thought. I learned that whilst some Indonesian people genuinely don’t know about the current situation and issues facing people in remote areas, it’s also custom to not talk about it. Ignore it. Actually, some people even believe that this is the status underprivileged people were born into and therefore do not deserve a better life. Mind boggling.
Seeing firsthand the unsanitary and, frankly, revolting home environment that the children and their families live in was heartbreaking and quite distressing, particularly when I imagined my own children living in such conditions. No food or clean water for drinking or bathing, blankets and thin yoga-like mats on the floor for beds and unhygienic kitchen conditions contribute to a myriad of health issues including malnutrition, physical deformities and severe skin infections.
On one occasion we visited a village in the mountains above Lovina where a young girl was left to look after her home and her young brother whilst her parents and siblings went out for the day. The young girl, whilst excited to see us, was visibly upset and anxious and did not want us to leave when the time came. Kym was understandably concerned about her well-being and was suspicious of a man who she’d not seen at this village before who was loitering near the house when we had arrived.
As the girl was nearing her teenage years, Kym explained that the she was at risk of being sold or rented out to a local man or village if she wasn’t removed from her current living environment soon. The only blessing in these situations, strangely enough, is that girls tend to start menstruation later than usual due to malnutrition which perhaps may delay such a tragic occurrence. Kym vowed that they would return to speak with the family later that day and expressed her wish to remove the girl from the village and have her stay on the land with her and Ardi. When I questioned Kym about this, I learnt that in some situations this arrangement can in fact be beneficial for a family as it means one less mouth to feed. Again, a heartbreaking reality.
I met a seventeen-year-old boy, Wayan, and his younger sister who traveled down from the village to collect their distribution packages. Both children looked somewhat miserable and Kym explained that Wayan has hepatitis and his liver is not functioning as well as it should. His father had died from typhoid and his brother from hepatitis, so Wayan’s future is not looking particularly hopeful unless he receives urgent medical care. Both children had severe skin infections, as they are unable to bathe, that also required urgent medical care. Wayan was fortunate to have recently received a full sponsorship so he could undertake a traineeship with the KyArdi Project and Kym explained that this would also allow him to shower and eat daily at the property.
We visited Wayan’s village a couple of days later and met his lovely mother who works every day, perhaps three kilometers away from the home, cutting down and transporting trees just so she could feed herself and care for her two children. Their sleeping arrangements were similar to the previous house we’d visited; a simple, thin mat on the floor for everyone to share and a basic, unhygienic kitchen. Kym communicated to Wayan’s Mum that he would start his traineeship immediately and this would ease the pressure for her. For a minimal cost of AUD$12.50 per week, this creates an incredible opportunity for a teenager to undertake a traineeship with the KyArdi Project. What a huge achievement for a young person with no prior education!
The women I met and observed during my time in Bali were nothing short of remarkable. Their strength, determination and work ethic are exceptional and, despite how badly they’re often treated, they are clearly conquering the world and making things happen! As Beyoncé says, who runs the world? Girls! This is the hope of the KyArdi Project, that all girls will be given the resources and nurturing they need in order to receive education and eventually seek employment and gain independence.
In certain situations, this will mean that some girls may be removed from their homes and will live on the property where the KyArdi Project education and medical centre and dormitory-style accommodation are currently under establishment. Children removed from their homes? Yes, this doesn’t seem right, however it is occasionally and unfortunately necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of some girls and boys too.
I was fortunate to visit a local wholesale market with Kym and Ardi where the food is purchased for distribution to the children, and in some cases their families, where I met the most incredible group of twelve to fourteen ladies (I visited on a few days and the number of workers varied each time). These women work in the hot sun, seven days a week between 7am and 5pm, to sort through fifty tonne of raw cashew nuts for exportation to Vietnam and India. Fifty tonne daily!
Family guidelines for sponsorship
I was impressed to learn that Kym has created a strict set of rules and guidelines that families of sponsored children must adhere to for their child to receive a regular distribution package. It is an extensive document but essentially includes the requirement for parents to work with the KyArdi Project on a voluntary basis for a minimum of five days per month, no consumption of alcohol, no physical and verbal abuse towards family members (including animals) and no involvement in cock fighting.
Even though the distribution packages are for the children, they do contain enough food for siblings and parents. On distribution day when the packages were being arranged, Kym explained that families who follow the guidelines would receive a full distribution package, however if a family did not conform then often they would receive a smaller package to supply the child only. This, of course, often causes tension with some parents, however Kym is hopeful that over time they will understand the benefits of the guidelines.
How can you help?
Kym and Ardi and the KyArdi Project team are already achieving so much and their mission and vision for the Project is only just beginning. If you are considering sponsoring a child with the KyArdi Project, I can assure you that 100% of your sponsorship funds will provide food, clothing, medical care and a chance to attend school or perhaps the opportunity for a teenager to undertake a traineeship and gain employment. If you are not able to offer a monthly sponsorship but would like to make a financial donation towards the KyArdi Project, please know that any amount will be greatly appreciated and that even $5 can make an enormous difference.
For further information on the KyArdi Project or to find out how to become a sponsor parent, please visit the ‘KyArdi Project Indonesia’ Facebook and Instagram pages. Also, follow ‘Get Your Roam On’ on Facebook and Instagram for future KyArdi Project updates and exciting new developments.