Did you know that there are families living in dump sites in Bali? Families that are desperately searching through the growing waste, generated mostly from tourism, for items worth selling, to provide them with the basic necessities for survival. These images sit in stark contrast to the Bali that most Australians choose to experience.
It is certainly easier, and much more pleasant, to focus on the cheap cocktails, luxurious resorts and indulgent lifestyle afforded to us tourists. I am guessing that the majority of Australians who have been to Bali have not even thought about the impact that their travel is having on this magical island. It is estimated that 653,000 Australians visited Indonesia in 2009-10 (source: ABS) making it the second most popular holiday destination in the world for us, behind New Zealand. I would love to know what percentage of this staggering figure took the time to truly notice the locals, how many took the time to think about contributing to an established charity working to change lives in this desperately disadvantaged location.
This is the confronting reality:
“The dump site is now buzzing with activity, including men, women and children of all ages. Most people there make their living by salvaging what they can from Bali’s less glamorous side of tourism, often picking out plastics, glass and metals to recycle for small amounts of money. Living this way is a constant struggle for families, but is their only solution. If they stop, the would have no livelihood at all.”
“It can be difficult to imagine this unseen side of Bali, with mountainous piles of waste being trucked in every day.”
Since meeting the amazing Founder of Solemen Indonesia, Robert Epstone, on my recent trip to Bali, I am excited and proud to have become an Ambassador for the charity. The work that they are doing with the most disadvantaged children, adults and families in Bali is extraordinary. Robert has dedicated his life to improving the lives of those most in need, and the impact that he is having humbles and inspires me to be a better person. It is my hope to raise awareness amongst Australians of the harsh realities behind tourism in Bali, and also balance this darkness with the simple ways that we can make a difference. I know that it is confronting, it should not be ignored though, you will be a better person for the experience trust me.
Watch this space for more detail on how we can work together to support Solemen to change the lives of those most in need in beautiful Bali xx