09 Dec

Transportation program at Volunteer Programs Bali

When we started the program six years ago at Volunteer Programs Bali all our students came from the areas close to the school. We started very locally and with only a few classes, and most kids were able to walk to the school or hop on a bike for less than 5 minutes.

But over the years our program has been growing, and not just a little bit! Where we started with a few very small programs, we have grown tremendously and we now have over 500 children who are joining our program every week!

We have moved our schools a few times over the years. Our mission is to help as many communities as possible, so we often start a program in a certain area and continue it for a year or two. After that we merge the students into our main school and we look for another community where we can start our program and support the community.
As a result, we have children coming from lots of different areas to our main school. And some of these areas are actually quite far.

There is where our transportation program started. After hearing so many stories of families where their kids really wanted to join our program. But due to lack of financial resources the parents weren’t able to bring them to the school. VP Bali decided to step in and arrange transportation for these children.

One of the missions of Volunteer Programs Bali is also to provide local job opportunities to those who struggle financially and are not able to find a job.
Through the transportation program, we are not only able to help a lot of children and families with free transportation but we can also provide jobs for drivers who don’t have any income.

We found out this system works very well.
Firstly, the children are much more eager to come. Not because the transport is free, but because now all the kids from an area are able to go and they go together as a group of friends. So much more fun to go to school together than by yourself!
Secondly, our drivers are our best promoters! They are the contact person of VP Bali in each area where they pick up children, so they are always up to date and aware of anything happening in the village such as ceremonies or other activities. When children are not coming to the school for a while, the driver will go to their house and talk to the family to find out what happened.
And they are always promoting the program. They put out flyers in the community buildings, they talk about the program at village meetings and they go around the houses to inspire children to come join the program.

Nowadays, we have 5 drivers working for VP Bali. They pick up children from more than 10 different villages, some of these almost an hour away from the school.
Every day, there are more than 200 children that are now able to join our free English classes thanks to this transportation program.

And not to forget, there are 5 drivers who are now have a regular income and are able to provide for their family!

09 Dec

Our local helpers

For VP Bali it is very important to share and to always be there for our staff members and local community.

This year we were able to welcome a few new helpers in our team. Since we are growing as an organization with more children, meaning more classes, there is more work to do in the school. Our helpers are very eager and motivated to help when ever needed, and they learn a lot while they are doing it.

And most importantly, they have a lot of fun with each other as a team. Their ability to work as a team, to share tasks, to delegate and to be flexible is growing very fast.

At Volunteer Programs Bali we put high value on community to provide free English classes and other activities for children in Bali. We try to encourage, not only the children to come to our classes, but also the parents and community to understand the importance of education. Our mission is to provide, with the help of volunteers who come from all over the world, classes and events to inspire and empower the Balinese children and their communities, throughout all socio-economic classes.

We strongly believe in creating job opportunities for Balinese children and the members of the local community.
To perfectly success in our projects we receive help from local staff members who help our local organization to organize our classes and also encourage children to come to our extra afternoon classes to learn English. At Volunteer Programs Bali the local coordinators and the volunteers understand the importance of education and English skills to increase job opportunities. Also being able to speak English is very important for the future of Balinese children as Bali has become a very popular tourist destination.

For our students who are really motivated to continue to learn and to do more, we offer paid internships and learning opportunities in the schools. For that we have created opportunities to have a job at VP Bali. These extra helpers are chosen by our founder and local staff members. They are selected on motivation and eagerness to learn, but we also look at their personal and financial situation as we strongly want to support children that are struggling with their financial situation. Their work at VP Bali is to help the local coordinators in the schools with organizing the classes, class material, recourses, rooms and other administrative tasks. The main goal is that students slowly learn to take responsibility and to actually work in the organization while simultaneously joining our classes and learn English.

We are very proud of all of them and we are looking forward to continue working with them in the new year!

09 Dec

Recap of scholarship program 2018

What a year it has been for Volunteer Programs Bali! And now 2018 is almost coming to an end. It has been an amazing year, with so many activities, events, achievements and developments.

One of the things we are so proud of is our scholarship program. And at the end of this year we also reflect on all our scholarship students who joined our program this new. We were so happy to welcome many new students and unfortunately we had to say goodbye to some as well.

We started the year after a long holiday the month of January. After a long time off, it always takes a bit of time before everyone is back in the routine. This meant for us that the first month after the holiday break it was still a bit quiet at the school, many of the scholarship students were also busy with their regular school and a lot of them did a job training as well.

From March onwards more and more students started joining the program again. Many old students, who joined before but took a break, but also lots of new students, who joined the program for a while and now applied for the scholarship. And we were so happy that we were able to accept them all!
We had so many new scholarship students joining the program, that we had to start a whole new class!

Towards the end of the school year in June, we noticed that a lot of our scholarship students were super busy with their exams and extra classes at their regular school, so they didn’t have much time to join the English classes.

The end of the school year also meant that a group of our students graduated from Senior High school! And those are the moments we get to feel so proud and thankful! Thanks to the scholarship program of VP Bali, these students were able to finish their higher education and now graduated!
But unfortunately it also meant we had to say goodbye to these super eager students. Being graduated means that they either go look for a full time job, or, when their financial situation allows it, they continue their study at university.
Both ways means unfortunately that they are no longer able to join our afternoon English classes.

Due to the fact that a group of our students aren’t able to join the program any longer, we were able to accept new students for a scholarship in the new school year last August.
Most of these students are a lot younger, they are mostly still at Junior High school and just started learning English.

It is so amazing to see how motivated and eager these students are to learn English. These days in Bali it is almost unavoidable to speak English, and these young kids surely realize that.

Now the year has come to an end, we can look back on a great group of students in our scholarship program. Some of them who are joining the program for years already, and some of them just became part of the VP Bali family.

But one thing they all have in common, they want to learn English! And they are so thankful for VP Bali that they are able to go to school because of their scholarship.

Well 2019, bring it on! We hope to welcome many new students again and seeing our older students graduate soon!

09 Dec

Break time!

Schools in Indonesia have lots of holidays. So being a teacher here is quite fun, you get to have holidays almost every month.
Besides the yearly summer holiday, there is also an end of the year holiday (December/January). And then we haven’t started with all the religious holidays. As Indonesia celebrates all religions, we get holiday on Christmas, Buddhism new year, Chinese New Year, Islam holidays and Bali being mainly an Hindu island, obviously we celebrate all Hindu religious holidays.
So when we count all these up, there are holidays almost every month.

At Volunteer Programs Bali, we don’t follow all the national holidays. Firstly, because we are not a regular school, we are a free afternoon program which is not mandatory for the children to join. So the children can decide for themselves whether they want to join the classes.
Secondly, as we work with international volunteers, we can’t close the school on each holiday, as it would mean that the volunteers don’t have any children to teach on those days. And that’s of course the reason they come here for, so we don’t want to disappoint them!

So as we run our programs all year long, our staff hardly gets any holidays. There is also no break for our students except for the weekends.
This made us decide that we do have to take some days off. For all of us to recharge. And to get in line as good as possible with the Indonesian school holidays, we take this break at the end of the year. So the last two weeks of December and the first week of January are OFF!

This means we won’t welcome any new volunteers during this period, our local staff does not have to come in for work and our kids get a real holiday!

However, this year’s break is a bit different. That’s because this year the break falls together with the largest Balinese holiday called Galungan. Meaning that all our Balinese staff and students won’t actually have time off, but will be super busy at home with all the preparations of these ceremonies.
But luckily this is only one week, the other two weeks they do get to enjoy some well-deserved time off!

So to all our friends and students, we will see you back again in the new year! For now, enjoy your holiday and ceremonies and look forward seeing you back in January.
And to all our volunteers, we can’t wait to welcome you again in 2019! We wish you all happy holidays!

30 Sep

Tutik’s Graduation

This week was a very special week for us at Volunteer Programs Bali and especially for our local staff member Tutik. It was her graduation week! A week full of formalities, events, photo shoots and dances. A moment like this deserves every festivity you can think of, because Tutik can now call herself officially an English Teacher. Wow, what a moment!

Tutik started at VP Bali as a student in one of our programs. She came daily to our free English afternoon classes, whilst going to normal school in the morning. She then became one of our local helpers, meaning she still studied English in our program but also helped us with small tasks in and around the school. From local helper she became part time staff and member of our VP Bali family.
Going to University in the morning and working with us in the afternoons, Tutik never stops working and learning! She is one of those persons that is always so eager to learn and to work hard to achieve her goals!

Coming from an economically struggling family, it was not possible to continue her university without help from VP Bali. Therefor VP Bali has been giving a scholarship to Tutik for the 4 years she had to study at university. This scholarship made it possible for Tutik to continue without her family being stressed over money.

And she continued to grow… having a very important role in her family means she gets up at 4 AM every morning to go to the market to sell goods for her mother. After that she went straight to University until lunch time, rushing back to Ubud and straight to VP Bali. Often working evenings as well but never one word of complaint. She just keeps going!

And this week all her hard work finally paid off. Graduation Day was there! A day where Tutik and her family celebrated the end of a chapter. Where we celebrate together on Tutik’s bright future. And where a new chapter starts… From Monday 1st October Tutik will start working full time at VP Bali. Even though she has job offers from many well-known schools all around Bali, she has decided to stay at VP Bali and to grow even more within the organization. And we can call ourselves very lucky for having such super star in our team!

Once again, congratulations Tutik. We at the VP Bali Family are all so very proud of you of all you have achieved. And we look forward to many more adventures and challenges together at VP Bali!

28 Aug

VP Bali and the Community: Empowering from the Ground Up

The island of Bali is unique from the rest of Indonesia in the fact that it has become an international melting pot of cultures from around the world. One may even experience a bit of western culture shock arriving in Bali from somewhere else in Southeast Asia. While these influences can create a vibrant atmosphere for visitors, so many cultures being pushed into one island can make it difficult for Balinese people to maintain their traditions.

The international tourism community in Bali has become more permanently settled over time. Western culture has become so ingrained in certain parts of the island that a few westerners believe that they have the answers to solve the problems facing the Balinese today. We find that these efforts are often not aligned with the true interests of the Balinese people. Because these efforts are organized from a point above local communities, there is a disconnect between the mission of outsiders and the locals their organizations effect.

It is very important to us that our presence is not an intrusion against established local customs. That we are not here to fix problems, but instead give Balinese youth and their families opportunity to grow successfully amongst a rapidly changing society centered on tourism. We give Balinese the tools to succeed without losing their daily traditions, the focus on family and religion, and the gentle kindness of their everyday demeanor that makes Bali, Bali.

We do this through a few different elements of our organization. Before VP Bali grew to where we are today, our founder Kimberley made an effort to create close relationships with the local communities she lived amongst. These connections were strengthened through members of our local staff, who understand community dynamics and know which families need the most help. Instead of putting out a blanket call for help, VP Bali hears the stories of those who can truly benefit from working with us, and creates opportunities specific to their needs and skillset.

We empower our kids and local staff to be proud of their traditions through events such as cultural exchange, cooking classes, and temple ceremonies. Students get to play teacher and teach their volunteers traditions such as Balinese dance and offering making. When our volunteers are included in local temple ceremonies, our local staff helps them respectfully participate.

Kimberley and our staff’s close community ties means that we can more easily see the changing nature of local culture from the ground level, to better understand what holds Balinese people back from achieving their fullest potential. Our team witnesses first-hand the changing aspects of Balinese culture, such as the disappearing presence of traditional customs and rituals in younger generations. With this in mind, we cater the mission and growth of VP Bali to the specific challenges facing local communities today.

Through all of our efforts, we never want Balinese to lose sight of how beautiful their society is without any western influence. That through the opportunities they are provided, they can succeed while still holding onto the traditions that make Balinese culture beautifully unique.

21 Aug

10 reasons to come to Bali according to our local staff and students.

Why do Balinese think their island is worth a visit?

 

Get ready! You are going to Bali! As we all know Bali is very popular among travellers. But are you curious to learn the real reasons to go to Bali from a local point of view? With the help of our students and local staff members we are ready to shed the light on this question – here are the main reasons why you should really get on that plane to Bali!
1. Bali is a very famous island not only in Indonesia, but all over the world. Many people dream to get to Bali. And if you can run into people like David Beckham, Barack Obama and Julia Roberts on your way to school or work, it definitely proves that Bali is is one of the most popular tourist destinations for everyone!
2. Bali has an amazing and diverse nature – one can enjoy beaches, forests, rice fields and terraces, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and even volcanos! Where else can you enjoy such a variety of nature? Just an insider’s tip; try not only to stay on the main roads but get off the beaten track and discover even more beauty!

 

3. The island of Bali is famous for its delicious traditional cuisine. Nasi Ayam, Nasi Campur, Lawar, Bebek, Mi Goreng, Babi Guling, Balung, Tum, Pepes, Ares – it is a real jam and all gourmets should try these mouth-watering dishes! What is even more exciting is that you can eat traditional Balinese food with your hands – and it actually tastes much better that way!

4. Hospitality, friendliness and politeness – this is what Balinese people are all about. Balinese are very easy in the communication and easy-going people. They smile and are happy to have a conversation even with a stranger. The best way to experience the real Balinese life is staying at a homestay. Living with a Balinese family and really see the daily life of the locals!

 

5. Island of gods, island of thousand temples, island of paradise…All these titles have appeared thanks to the unique rich culture of Balinese people. They have their own dialect, art, music, crafts, many rituals, holidays and ceremonies. So many fascinating things you can learn and even take part in as the Balinese are more than happy to show you their culture. Try to really connect with the locals and you will probably get invited to join a Balinese ceremony or a wedding!

6. Balinese are never bored, there are just too many fun things to do! Start the day with a visit to the local market, sipping a coffee overlooking the morning life by the side of the road, go for a ride through the villages and visit one of Bali’s amazing beaches. Especially in the afternoons during the weekend, you will see the beaches full with Balinese families enjoying their day off with their family!

 

7. Sports! Did you know that the Balinese love playing badminton, futsal or volleyball? And they are amazing surfers and great at yoga? Just about everything! And whether you are a pro or beginner, they are happy to teach you or have you in their team for a game or two.

8. We’ve mentioned it before but it is worth to enhance a bit more. You haven’t seen Bali if you haven’t been to the local market in the morning. Each village has their market and even though it is for early birds (best time to go is about 6-6.30 AM), it is all worth it. Exotic fruits, 1000 different kinds of vegetables and spices, offerings and much more. It is colorful and vibrant, and the experience is even more complete if you go with one of your new Balinese friends who are able to tell you all about everything you see!

9. Traveling to another country is always exciting and fun. And what makes it even more fun if you can really communicate with the locals. So why not learn a few words Bahasa Indonesia while you are in Bali? You will see that the Balinese love it when you make the effort of speaking their language, and it definitely helps you bond and understand the Balinese culture.

10. Eat in local restaurants as much as you can. Bali has many options to dine and sometimes it would make you feel you are in your home country with all the choices of foreign cuisines. However, eating with the locals really enriches your experience. Even though local restaurants aren’t as cosy, clean or fancy as that Italian restaurant next door, it really is an experience to never forget!

Are you already planning your holiday to Bali? Just a few last tips of our students and local staff; be yourself, be open to the culture and take care of the environment. Connect with the Balinese and think out of the box. It will definitely be an unforgettable journey and a holiday to never forget!
14 Aug

17th August – Independence Day. But what is it really all about?

Can you imagine how lucky you are if you are in Indonesia on the 17th of August? This date marks the Indonesian independence day, a very special and important day for Indonesian people. If you are in the country on this date, make sure you don’t miss the celebrations and events, it is definitely worth it and for sure gives you an unforgettable experience. We asked our students to tell us a little bit more about this day and its meaning for them.

Let’s start with a little background of the history of this holiday. The country had been a Dutch colony for over 300 years, but on the 17th of August in 1945 the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was signed and read by Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta. Moreover, the national flag of Indonesia was unveiled: the red colour represents courage and the white one – purity. Since then, the Indonesia’s Independence Day is always celebrated on the 17th of August. This is the day of liberty and happiness – Indonesian people are very proud of their country!

 
At school, Indonesian children are preparing for their march walk weeks before the big day. When you drive around the streets you will see groups of children marching their way up, all to get ready and be prepared for the competition on the 17th of August. Schools in the same district compete with each other and it is amazing to see how well these kids practiced and march like real soldiers!

So how do Indonesians celebrate this meaningful holiday and what can you expect on this day? The day always starts and ends with the flag ceremony. The Indonesian president will do so on National television and all over Indonesia the local government follows him in this traditional and official ceremony where the Indonesian flag is being raised joined by marching soldiers and local officials.

The rest of the day is full with activities. Besides the marching competitions there are lot of exciting activities! Indonesian people organize majestic parades, heartwarming and soulful community gatherings, engaging and spectacular sport events (for example sack races), enjoyable cultural and arts festivals. Extreme and thrill lovers try to climb a pinang tree covered in soap to reach a prize – this is a very common amusing competition!

 
A compulsory nice addition to the Independence Day are delicious treats. Traditions of celebrating include eating the wonderful Indonesian crackers known as “kerupuk” hanging on a string. Take care of your fingers – you can bite them off with the traditional goodies!  

When we asked our students what they love most about this holiday, the answers were divers. Some are enjoying all the games the most. Did you know that a lot of the games played are still coming from the Dutch but with an Indonesian touch? The boys are most excited about climbing the poles while the girls love to watch the parade.

One can choose his or her preferred way of celebration this national holiday but the one thing remains the same – the sense of pride and joy for the country! The atmosphere of the holiday is distinguished by excitement, enthusiasm, delight, glee and gladness!

Now then, the Independence Day is a very significant holiday, because it means the uniting, freedom and self-sufficiency of Indonesian people. It is the day of cohesion, friendship, love to motherland and respect for the past. What is important, even if you are not an Indonesian, you can join the holiday, feel its atmosphere and enjoy the amazing emotions! And we are going to celebrate the Independence Day with our students – so stay tuned!
17 Jul

A glimpse at our founder’s day

Ever wonder how our incredible founder Kimberley spends her day? Here’s a peek:
 
5AM: Who let the dogs out? Kimberley.
Kimberley is an early bird. She starts her day most of the time at 5am. First she lets the dogs out, once that’s done, she can enjoy the bed by herself. Some of them are also really eager and come back straight.
We all know that Kimberley loves animals, but do you know that she has 5 dogs and 4 cats that calls her mom? Luckily they are all quite independent and can walk themselves around her village – She just need to open her doors! 😉

 

5.10AM
Snooze time, after the packs are out and about – Kimberley finally gets to enjoy the bed all by herself! – Yeah well…sometimes with exceptions 😉

 

 

6AM
Sometimes it depends on how late the previous day ends, but normally Kimberley uses this time of the day to go through her daily to-do-list. Once that is done, she will… open Facebook and Instagram to check on how everyone is doing! Gotta be social hey! 🙂

 

After checking the social media Kimberley makes herself a cup (or three cups) of coffee and starts attacking the emails! (We all know how responsive VP Bali is when it comes to responding to emails and queries…) Who says this has to be done from the desk? 😉

 

Finally, to energize herself with positive emotions for the whole day, Kimberley will watch a short cartoon. Time to get up and face the word!

 

 

8AM
Time to shower and look great!

 

 

8.45AM – 10 AM
Paperwork! Because even though one lives in Bali, you still have to clear your paperwork…

 

10AM – 12Noon
Our founder uses this time to prepare for school activities and events. When necessary she will also meet her staff and tackle tasks together 🙂
 
12 Noon – 12.30PM
LUNCH!

 

 

12.45PM – 4.30PM
PLAY time! At school Kimberley spends her time to play with the kids, volunteers, and also to help teach in some classes. She will also use this time to analyse and note down things to improve because we believe in continuous growth! 🙂

 

 

 4.30PM – 5.30PM
It is one of Kimberley’s talents to split her day in enough pieces, so that everyone has the chance to meet up with her. And this doesn’t always needs to be in an office, right? 😉 Let’s discuss the upcoming projects with the interns!

 

 

5.30PM – 7PM
Time to evaluate the day! Either with staff, interns, or volunteers, Kimberley will go through her last meeting of the day and/or sort things up during this time.

 

8PM onwards
Depending on the day (Wednesday night is blocked for staff and Thursday is blocked for our weekly Thursday Dinner) Kimberley will be sprinkling the final magic dust on her tasks! Once that’s done she will happily jump in bed and catch some rest – well after her last cartoon of the day at least! 😉

 

And that’s it! 24 hours as Volunteer Programs Bali’s founder! 🙂 

 

11 Jul

“The VP Bali Way”: Education Through Play

At VP Bali, we believe in education as the greatest form of opportunity. Through our after school English classes, we want our kids to understand that education doesn’t need to just mean advancing to the next level or passing a vocabulary test. Through what we like to call “The VP Bali Way: Education Through Play”, the fun and creative learning techniques in our classrooms are designed to empower and inspire our students every day!

As compared to that of the west, Indonesia’s public school curriculum is very basic, and focuses on benchmarks and passing exams to help students get to the next level. The curriculum does not focus as much on life skills and personal development, such as learning how to solve problems and multi-task. We believe these missing pieces are crucial to helping Balinese youth reach their fullest potential.

Our vision of education as a journey, not an end goal, is seen through the fun creative learning techniques we use in our classes. Dancing, song, games, and small competitions are just some of the playful ways we keep our students attentive and coming back every day to learn! While repetition of subjects make may take more time, learning through play encourages the students to bring home what they gain from the classroom. We ask our volunteers to really let their guard down, so that when our kids see them having fun – they feel more empowered to let their unique personalities shine and build confidence.

We also keep things interesting outside of the classroom with activities such as weekly cleanups, monthly recycling events, cultural exchanges, “Student of the Month” awards, and guest workshops! We want our classes to be something students look forward to every day, knowing that they gain much more than new vocabulary.

Through creative learning, our students learn the benefits of education past simply moving up to the next benchmark. By stepping outside of the box, they can expand their boundaries to open up opportunities for personal and eventually professional development. We believe that when students grow with this attitude of education, it keeps them empowered to continue learning even when a time comes that they can no longer afford school and must work to help their families. To help our older students with those hard decisions, we provide VP Bali scholarships to help our most dedicated students pay for their public school.

Looking forward, we hope that the individuals we are working with at VP Bali are inspired by an open and fun attitude towards education, and will continue to spread our message through their communities long after they leave our classroom.
For more info about our programs: volunteer in Bali.