Kuta sees some of the most extreme cases of poverty. For the locals, kids living on the streets are an ordinary sight. Children as young as 4 years old are sent to make money; and girls as young as 14 are often married and having children for shelter and food. Due to national economic difficulties, the children can’t afford education and therefore turn to life on the streets. The YKPA Play for Change (YKPA PFC) orphanage opened for these reasons in 2007 when the children finally said, ‘We want to learn to read’. It all began in a classroom shelter and, over the years, developed into an orphanage; then finally a school.
One of our Bali representatives frequented the orphanage and, after exploring the village streets, described the sheer horror of seeing children’s lives in the Balinese slums. The following is a true account of his experiences:
“It started when I went with Emi the orphanage manager to help the local street children. Altogether, we handed out over forty small bags of Indo soup. You should have seen how grateful the children were. It really made my heart sink.
Later, Pety, a former YKPA PFC orphan, gave us a tour of the area. After living on the streets as a child, he knew the area better than anyone else. He knew everyone and was loved by all.
But now, as a young adult, his recollection of his experiences soon taught me that life on the streets was more dangerous than I’d ever expected. That was when the trip suddenly became a massive eye opener.
Pety told me where the children came from and where they spent their nights. He also told stories of security guards chasing them, stealing their money and cutting off their hair to intimidate them (which still happens today). The thought of it all made me sick.
This feeling grew worse when a little girl arrived the following week. She was a returning orphan whom Emi was very fond of. The little girl arrived unexpectedly with a 2-month old baby around her neck.
The baby was feverish and severely sick. Emi instinctively took the child-mother and her baby to a hospital for medical aid. That was just one of many incidents.
We hit the road the next day, aiming for the busiest highway in Kuta. There, children as young as 3 meandered through the traffic, pleading for money or eager to sell their little trinkets. It was the child beggars’ central. Ever since arriving in Bali, I’d been told by expats and locals that the children were from other islands other than Bali. But I was later informed that this was a myth. The problem is in Bali itself - mostly in a very poor village to the north of Karangasem.
What was true, though, was the fact that these children’s operations were controlled and overseen by various bosses. These children lined the entire highway; scouring the road with open hands or goods to make some quick cash for their abominable ‘owners’.
Among these children was a young family - a 19 year old girl holding her 3 month old baby and, alongside her, a 13 year old brother. Around the brother’s shoulders was their sick 4 year old sister, hunched inside a dusty burlap sack. They were all thin, wore dirty rags and walked barefoot.
It was about 10pm when we met the young family. The sky was dark and the children were exhausted. So we offered to drive them the rest of the way.
At the station, the sight was horrific. Another sick baby lay in front of us. Emi gasped then raced to the nearest shop and brought back a bottle of liquid ibroprufen. After that, she took the baby to a hospital. It was a painful thought, knowing that this struggling family was just one of thousands in Bali.
Emi and the orphanage are kind, sincere and willing to give immediate help to the children around. The problem I see is they need the funds they are currently lacking to stay afloat. They are fighting for a good cause but they’re struggling to do so.
I have been back to the orphanage a few times. Since then, the young family, child-mother and her daughter I met all appear much happier and healthier.
After the trip, I can confidently say that Emi and the YKPA PFC orphanage are doing excellent work. I only hope they’ll find the necessary funding to continue aiding their local community for many years to come.”
Our Bali representative is currently at the orphanage, continuing to help Emi fight the issues of slavery, hunger and child prostitution by educating and keeping children off the streets each day.
Their tour guide, Pety, was living on the streets until 4 years ago when he found YKPA PFC. Now he has food, a roof over his head and the education necessary to provide him a brighter future.
We are in critical need of your support to help us continue our great work at the YKPA PFC orphanage.
Please donate to Play for Change.
The funds will go towards buying food, blankets, wheelchairs, household equipment and support for our staff who are doing fantastic work in Bali.
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