When we tell people about our work in Bali, their usual reaction is “Can I come too?” Many people have indeed joined one of our six trips to date. In fact, there have been a total of 23 volunteers that have travelled to Bali and worked in the schools of Munduk.
For those of you who haven’t been able to join us yet, I thought you might enjoy an overview of a typical trip to Bali with The Heart, Mind & Soul Project.
First, you have to get there.
We typically fly through Taipei because it’s the fastest and cheapest. The first leg from LAX to TPE is about 13 hours. After a 3-4 hour layover, the final leg to Bali is about 5 hours. So you’re spending almost a full day to get there. The time goes by quickly if you fly on a Hello Kitty plane.
Upon arrival we usually spend a few days in a quiet area to adjust to the time change and let go of any mental baggage from home. Then it’s time to fill the void with Balinese culture so we head to Ubud for a few days of immersion into the sights, smells and sounds of this cultural capital. The highlight of our time in Ubud is a visit to Tirtha Empul, the water temple. At the temple we participate in a purification ritual, immersing ourselves in the cleansing waters and offering prayers at each one of the fountains.
Leaving Ubud, we drive up into the central mountains of Bali and the rural villages of the Munduk region. Away from the Western influences of the beaches and bustling cities, the pace of life slows measurably as we arrive at Sanda House, our headquarters for our work in the local schools. We are currently sponsoring 6 schools in the region and we try to visit each one during our annual visits.
Each day begins at dawn as we prepare a light breakfast for the volunteers and review the schedule and assignments for the day. Our driver arrives at 7 am and we travel to our first school by 730. At the schools we introduce ourselves, sing a few songs (the chicken dance is always a hit) and work with the students on a simple craft project. It’s heartwarming to see the reaction from the students as they complete their project and proudly display them for their teacher and friends.
In the afternoon after our school visits, we have teacher training sessions and a special party for our sponsored children and their parents. Since we now have 55 students supported by our sponsors in Australia, Germany and the United States, it’s quite a celebration as we hand out backpacks filled with school supplies and special notes, photos and gifts from the sponsors. The children entertain us with a traditional Balinese dance and everyone joins in for a game of water balloon toss.
When our work in the schools is complete, we head back to a quiet area to unwind and reflect on the experiences we’ve shared with the students and all the beautiful people of Bali. We are refreshed and renewed by our small acts of service to them.
Our 2015 Heart, Mind & Soul service team