How many times have you been sitting at the beach enjoying the view and a coffee or beer and someone said to you “do you live here?” Yes, you reply, “you are so lucky” they say. Lucky? More like blessed, to be living on the Island of  Gods, among the Balinese people, steeped in culture, religion and family commitments!

But life is not easy for all – with no free health care for many or education for all, many struggle to survive on a daily basis. Many people still live in remote villages, high up in the mountains, where accessibility to health care or education is almost non existent. Many yayasans (charities- non government funded) are now actively helping those in need in so many ways. Ways that put smiles on the faces of the local people. You too can feel the joy – laugh with them, play with the children. Yet providing that all important, health care or education.

Yayasan Rumah Sehat is one such organization. It provides care to the remote villages of the Amed area on the east coast of Bali.   “Healthy Days”  are sponsored by them.  These ‘”days” provide doctors/ specialists/ optometrists/ dentists/ women’s health care/ nurses/ midwives, even a pharmacy.  Plus hygiene and environmental education and it is all dispensed free.  Some of these villages have never seen a doctor or a teacher.

Becoming involved is easy and is so rewarding.  What does a 1/2 day three or four times a year equal? To me it equals the joy and satisfaction of knowing that we value and respect the local people and want to improve their health which ultimately makes them stronger and more able to live and work on the land and in their homes.  I know that all involved in Rumah Sehat from the doctors, the organizers and all the volunteers feel this same joy and satisfaction.You now may be asking yourself, where does the money come from to sponsor a project such as a “Healthy Day”? Although the care is given free, the medicines/ transport/water/food/ and some medical staff have to be paid for.

Sponsorship can come from private individuals, other Yayasans; or Rotary clubs both here  and overseas. Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset is one such club who is sponsoring several “Healthy days” this year. Rotary clubs often join together in sponsorship of many such projects. In June this year, Rotary club Bali Ubud Sunset joined with Rotary Club Seminyak to fund two “John Fawcett Foundation” village visits. John Fawcett has been providing free eye care to the people of Bali for many many years now. They are based in Sanur , but with their mobile “eye clinic”,  they travel the island reaching the remotest areas imaginable!

Recently (June 13th), a bunch of us headed for Banjar Let – up the steepest mountain you can think of, rain pouring down, in parts the road was washed away and we were driving on gravel – but FINALLY, after a 45 minute drive north of Ubud, we reached our destination, all safe and sound, if not a little shaken up and wet!! The “clinic” was set up in the area designated for us by the Kepala Desa and Banjar. Their mobile van is fully equipped to perform cataract surgery on site. The John Fawcett Foundation team are all trained to perform eye tests/ cataract checks/glaucoma pressure tests/ prescribe medication and dispense glasses, as well as cataract surgery. Now we come to the “JOY” I keep mentioning! What do you think it must feel like, walking hours to reach the clinic aided by a family member because you can’t see and walking out being able to see again??? Can you imagine the joy and smiles on their faces?

We sat and watched in awe as the people came, were tested and walked out so happy! There was very sadly two drawbacks to the day – the very heavy rain  prevented many from two of the villages from attending, the long walk to Banjar Let in the heavy rain and secondly a death in one of the villages meant many were attending the ceremonies; and as those of us living here know religion, culture and ceremonies comes before all…..

However John Fawcett Foundation rescheduled “Free Eye Treatment” for the community which was  held on the 29th of June at village Desa Semita and the initial sponsorship money provided for this the 2nd day.  This visit included not only the two villages that had missed the first visit, but also, all the school children in the 3 villages. From being a volunteer with Rumah Sehat , I have also become actively involved with the Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset, a small, very friendly, English speaking group, focusing on health, hygiene, education and water projects.

It was through the encouragement of members of both Rumah Sehat and Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset friends that I looked into this club and soon joined them as another energized volunteer! We meet twice a month in Ubud , from 5.30-7PM on Mondays, enjoying a meal together with the actual meeting from 6-7. Once a month we have a guest speaker – always very informative and entertaining, speaking for just 30 minutes!

–  Want to find out more?

–  What the year ahead projects are?

–  Maybe you have an idea you would like to share?

–  Now you “could” have the opportunity to see it materialize

–  Click onto the following websites, any questions, contact details available:

o   http:/rotarybaliubudsunset.org/

o   http://www.facebook.com.groups/129279773753349



Written by Renee Heaton, member Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset

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