The people who came to Bali in the 1970s called it Paradise – and it was – but unfortunately everyone wants to get to Paradise and even Paradise has its breaking point.
Forty years on, Bali is suffering from acute ecological problems. The rapid and unrestrained tourist development of the island has had a massive impact on its natural environment, causing deterioration of the water quality, destruction of the coral reefs, the decline of water resources and the escalation of pollution. Bali’s extraordinary culture, unparalleled natural assets and infrastructure are coming under increasing stress. Hotels have been constructed without regard to the water supply and waste disposal capacity, and many commercial developments do not conform to provincial regulations regarding the protection and integrity of historical and sacred sites.
It is hard to believe that there are still villages in Bali, forgotten by time and progress, where the people live in unimaginable poverty with no electricity, no running water, and no toilets. Villages where the nearest health-centre and market are a 4-6 hour walk down the mountain, where the majority of the inhabitants are illiterate and where, until recently, there was severe malnutrition and no hope of an education for most of the children. Hidden away in the dry mountainous regions of North and East Bali are the island’s most socially and economically deprived villages. There are regions where there are no rivers and no springs; the soil is arid and poor, and there is a drought for eight months of every year. The inhabitants have no access to water, no access to health services, no income and no education.
In these remote regencies of Bali, access to basic healthcare, especially for mothers and children is a major problem, as shown by the island’s high maternal mortality rate. In 2011, 84 mothers died per 100,000 deliveries in Bali. It’s not easy to assign medical workers and midwives in remote villages, and there is also a relatively high infant mortality rate, which is attributed to insufficient birth weight. Meanwhile the leading cause of infant malnutrition is a general ignorance on the need to exclusively breast-feed newborns.
Many families in Bali’s remote rural communities are caught in the poverty trap with little or no income. There is minimal government assistance and all education must be paid for.
The good news is that, as an island within a developing nation, most of these issues, and numerous more, are being addressed by NGOs (non-governmental organisations), known locally as ‘Yayasans,’ which are working to help Bali in a sustainable way. However, all of these charitable foundations, particularly the smaller ones, depend on one or few core donors to support their programmes (usually project-based funding) and could do with a little help to sustain their funding base for the future.
The logic that one should donate only to a single top charity is very strong. But when faced with more than one way of making Bali a better place, there is an urge to support more than one needy cause. However, splitting up your giving can definitely be a problem; a large proportion of small donations will be eaten up by processing costs, and even when the donations are well above the processing-cost level there is rarely enough to satisfy a foundation’s room for more funding. So what do you do when, after going through all the evidence, you find you can’t decide which is the best charity to support?
The solution is the Garden of Life, which has been established with the aims to support Bali’s well respected charities through the creation of a sustainable business model that will generate enough funds to relieve and support the people who are working towards change.