It’s hard to believe that it is been 3 years since I first floated the idea of AdoptASchool with David Wedd. David operates a hotel in Pacung, in central Bali and was instrumental in those early days in liaising with local schools.
For those of you who don’t know the background, my motivation to start AAS was a straight “heart response” rather than a “head response” to the 2002 Bali bombings. On reflection it seemed to me that, the people behind the planning and execution of those devastating acts were living under the delusion that all Westerners are bad. Clearly they were wrong. If they had known their victims as some of us had known them, as friends and family, they would have seen them in a completely different light and would not have been able to perpetrate the acts which they did. It seemed to me that misinformation was at the core of their misunderstanding.
I decided that the place to start was to educate the next generation so they would have positive, first hand experiences in their interactions with foreigners. I wanted those interactions to be as personal as possible. This is why school community members have always been encouraged to visit their sister school when they are on holiday in Bali. Making these personal connections causes a ripple effect and generates a greater sense of commitment from both sides.
In view of the recent bombings on October 1st, my resolve to increase cultural understanding between Indonesia and Australia has become stronger. It reaffirms my belief that violence is never the correct response and only adds to the heartache, feeding the negative emotions which will inevitably arise from such actions.
I am delighted to report that currently there are about 90 schools matched between Australia and Bali, which include our first Victorian school. Each school determines its own level of commitment which ranges from students exchanging emails, penpals, donations of educational resources, fundraising for improved infrastructure in schools, sponsorship of individual student’s educational expenses and provision of Professional Development for teachers in Bali.
Besides supporting individual schools, we also support several community projects. Over the past 2 years we have financially subsidized the completion of 2 Fresh Water Projects in the north of Bali. These projects have been very beneficial and welcomed by the villagers. Fresh water is now piped directly to the villages of Pegadungan and Alasangkar which means that over 130 families have access to fresh water actually in their village rather than having to collect and carry water from the local river. This has been particularly beneficial for the village girls and women whose job it was to collect and bucket the water, a 4km round trip.
AAS is also funding English lessons in some schools in Denpasar and Baturiti. The school communities from Capel, Cloverdale, Mt Hawthorn and Dalkeith to name but a few, have individually and collectively paid for lessons which will greatly improve the future employment chances of the students. Spoken English is seen as a passport to a more secure future so this is a very worthy pursuit for AAS.Outside of Bali, we are providing employment for some villagers in Lombok who are making souveneirs for us with our AAS and school logos on them.
But the benefits are not all one way. Of course the teachers and students in our school system benefit enormously from their interactions with their sister school. From a curriculum point of view, AAS addresses all 13 of the Overarching Statements and all of the 5 Values. It covers all 8 Learning Areas and provides an excellent opportunity for all to practise Active Citizenship.
AAS has been supported by many and varied agencies-
- Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Foreign Affairs Dept have approved funding grants
- We are featured on the Kang Guru website, a website for teachers of English in Indonesia
- We appeared in the last e-newsletter put out by the WA Trade Office in Indonesia
- The Director of the Bali Building Co has asked me to provide a list of schools in Baliso they can work with the school communities to carry out repairs to schools buildings
- Di MacPhail and her daughter have set up Beads for Bali with part of on-going fundraising for AAS
- Rotary in Collie is considering funding a Fresh Water Project in Singaraja.
- Wooldridges regularly donates Educational resources.
- “Couple of Cowboys” sound studio has made a cash donation to a visiting Balinese teacher
- “Stadia Instruments” and “Worldwide Online Printing” has subsidized the printing costs for a promotional pamphlet
Perhaps the most exciting development has been our recent Incorporation which means that the Assn now has legal status. With the help of a Committee of Management we will continue to grow whilst remaining fundamentally a grassroots organization. Our next step is to be recognized as a charity which will enable us to attract tax deductibility for donations.
As to the future, we have 2 exciting projects on the horizon. Next March, Wayan Tur is hoping to bring 20 High School Principals to Perth for a short stay to observe our system. Wayan has asked for our support in billeting and finding schools for the Principals. In July, we have the opportunity to assist in setting up Professional Development in Bali for English teachers in Bali.
In closing, I would like to publicly acknowledge the dedication and commitment to AAS as shown by Derek Cromb, Sue Elliott, Di MacPhail and Sherryn Reid. Their perseverance and trust has encouraged me to continue. Many thanks to all.
Founder of AAS
5th November, 2005