UNDERFED AND ILLITERATE
When traveling to nearby Bali we might focus on our holiday plans and ignore the approximately 25 000 kids who live on the street. Begging money from nightclub visitors, pub and restaurant customers, their eyes filled with despair for a few spare coins. And the money they make goes to a “boss”, who’s often a family member, using these children to create an extra daily or nightly income avenue.
Should any of these kids rebel against their fate, then the boss would simply take away their shelter or refuse to feed them. Perth based Christina Burki is a psycho therapist and an advisor to the YKPA orphanage in Denpasar. “These children live in horrible conditions,” she says, “they are illiterate and innumerate, underfed, and way too small for their age.” She’s well aware that if Western Australians don’t help their closest Asian neighbours, these children might end up on perillous boat journeys to Australia and end up on Christmas Island as refugees.
The YKPA orphanage takes the children on the streets. Putu, who started the orphanage, rides a motorbike and at night she’s on a mission to find begging
street kids on the streets of Denpasar and Kuta Beach.
“We give them a shelter and food, and we teach the children on the beach or in the slums. But recently the Balinese authorities closed it down and we still ignore why this happened. Maybe it’s a stain on Bali’s tourist image to have groups of street kids in an improvised classroom on the beach? Yet we know that tourists support our project.”, Putu Etiartini explains. She’s the driving force behind the orphanage.
Now YKPA is teaching children in the orphanage. Michael Pate, who is a co-founder and a public health specialist adds: “Having lost the beach school option, it’s quite a step for the kids to come to the orphanage to get education. So lots of children have quit. They’re being abused, they’re being used, and they don’t have any future. The only skill they develop is how to beg for money. It’s really sad!”.
YKPA does everything it can to provide basic medical care to these thousands of street kids. Michael Pate: “Pika, whose leg has been amputated, can now walk by herself. So we provide small bubbles of hope to the Balinese street kids. Our orphanage gives them a future here in Bali. They learn to read, write, calculate and…dance. And there’s medical care for those who need it.”
Shelter, food and medical care, it all costs money .“We’re happy to get massive support from tourists and volunteers. But there’s obstacles, like this new Indonesian law, saying that orphanages lose their access to rental properties.We need $ 17,000 before 1 May. . Without the help of people outside Bali that’s impossible.”