October 11, 2017


As I write this, we’re still waiting for Mount Agung to blow his stack, and all our Balinese neighbours are praying in their temples that he won’t, or at least that he’ll be gentle with the island. Despite those prayers, the eruption may have already happened by the time you read this.

All around us, we’re seeing what often happens when disaster threatens; people are pulling together. No one knows exactly what’s going to happen, but we’re helping each other get ready. Many long-term Ubud expats remember the first Bali bomb – 15 years ago this month. They remember hearing the first news, packing up their cars and vans, and heading on south to search for survivors and help the recovery. Now they are stocking up on supplies of food and water, trying to figure out how to protect furniture and belongings in homes without walls, and making sure that there are enough good quality masks for ourselves and the Balinese families we care for.

Yayasan Bumi Sehat, Kopernik and the IDEP Foundation, all based in Ubud, are extraordinary non-profits pulling together a wealth of expertise in working with disaster. They are basing their teams at Kopernik, and helping to coordinate support for the thousands of displaced people who’ve been evacuated from the anticipated path of the lava. Ibu Robin Lim is, of course, trying to work out where the pregnant women are, and how to ensure they have safe deliveries in the midst of all this trauma. Donations are distributed as fast as they arrive; food, simple cookers, water filter systems, and basic household supplies for the hundreds of unofficial and government evacuation camps set up around the mountain. (To donate: Bank Mandiri Branch: KCP Ubud 14510, Account Name: Yayasan Kopernik, Account No: 145-00-1804889-8.)



Pak Made (Kadek) Gunata, co-founder of the BaliSpirit group, is working to ensure that the farmers have livelihoods to return to. In 2011, he helped found Bali Regreen on the not so rich soil side of Mt Agung, to grow bamboo that will create an income for very poor locals and help replenish the soil.

Since the start of the evacuations, Pak Made and the Bali Regreen team have worked tirelessly to move the animals from those villages off Mt Agung. This is vital work. Many farmers have been persuaded by profiteers to sell their cows worth up to 15 million rupiah for two million (that’s $1,500 versus $200), because they don’t have any money for basic supplies that they need for the evacuation camps. But others have left their animals behind, or have no place to put them.

Pak Made’s team is fostering livestock on two hectares of land that’s been made available for use during the evacuation, but he says there are more than 800 cows, pigs and goats still in the danger area, “and I know there are more from other banjars that need to be removed”.

While there seems to be enough land to keep the animals at the moment, they need funds for fodder and animal care. By sheltering these cows, they are saving the future livelihood of these villagers, giving them the capacity to rebuild their lives when the immediate disaster is past. https://lustfel.com/ buy modafinil uk cheap  PM Made Gunata directly on Facebook re donations.



Indonesian humanitarian/ photographer, Rio Helmi, has tirelessly ridden his motorbike around the mountain over the past two weeks, to give us legitimate “News from Under the Volcano” updates on www.ubudnowandthen.com.

These regular updates already form a personal picture of the progress of the evacuation, and will be a vivid written and photographic record for the future. I encourage readers to take the time to read the series and give the link to friends and family in other parts of the world. (Thank you Rio for the photos in this column).



Many people want to help, but for whatever reason can’t get physically get to Bali, or aren’t in a position to work effectively here. (I am hobbling around waiting for a knee replacement, and frustrated, aware that I would be absolutely useless in a disaster zone at the moment). Others are far away, and would love to do something, but money is tight.

But look, all of us can help. Through the power of the internet, the mobile phone and call me old fashioned having actual conversations, we can all share our concern about the drama that’s unfolding in Bali at the moment. Tell the true story, which you can glean through any one of the organisations mentioned in this column and encourage those you know to donate in some way, to one of them. If each of us talks passionately to three people who love Bali, and encourage each of them to do the same, we’ll make a huge difference. And for those who have money to donate, any one of the individuals and organisations mentioned here will safely put that money to work.



When the situation in Bali returns to normal, Rio’s “News from Under the Volcano” reporting will add a whole chapter to Swadaya, the inspirational TV series he is currently co-producing, to put the spotlight on self-empowerment at grassroots level around the whole of Indonesia.

Rio Helmi and partner Joe Yaggi are passionate visual communicators and passionate about Indonesia. Rio is a well-known Indonesian cultural and social photographer, Joe is a filmmaker, producer/director, and cameraman, and they are combining those strengths to create a project to inspire people across Indonesia and around the world.

Swadaya will be a 13 x 30min cultural adventure television series giving Indonesians, and people around the world, an opportunity to explore and experience the best of Indonesia and her inspiring people, and to remember how culture and society shape the Indonesian experience.

Swadaya, in Indonesian, means self-empowered. Rio and Joe feel that Indonesia is at a crossroads culturally and politically, and as her people look for ways forward, they hope Swadaya will help light the way. Check out their progress at www.swadayafilm.com, and contribute what you can to their Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.