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March Classroom A 2016

North of Bali’s iconic Mount Agung is a very different world from the lush and bustling south. Arid, steep and stony, this is home to almost 9,000 families living in poverty, but since 2008, a small group of dedicated volunteers has been working to improve the lives of these people. In late 2015 the group was formally established as Yayasan Kita Peduli (We Care) FORMILY  RUMAH SEHAT a broad-based community initiative to provide remote village families in Karangasam with basic health care, nutritional education, natal care and access to education for the children. It operates entirely on donations. Behind the volcanoes marching across the northern part of Bali is an area of ‘rain shadow’ which receives much less precipitation than the rest of the island. The people living here in Desa Bunutan have been farmers and fisherfolk for as long as anyone can remember. Until Amed began to develop as a tourist area, many more lived along the coast. Then land prices started to climb, and hundreds of families, which had been squatting on until-then worthless beachfront, retreated into the hills behind the coast to eke out a living as subsistence farmers alongside those who were already there.No one knows exactly how many people are scattered along the steep, arid hillsides. They are off the grid, off the map, without schools, toilets, medical care or easy access to water. Most hamlets have no road or even motorcycle access.

These are Bali’s poorest people; an estimate 8,900 families in nine widely scattered villages live on under IDR 1,000,000/ year (US$75).That’s just a guess of course, no officials have been up those vertical tracks to count. They survive on one crop of cassava and corn a year, which must not only feed the family but provide seed for the next crop. The land is depleted and the corn is of a poor quality, yielding just one (sometimes not even that) ear per plant. Water is a constant issue. These families live high on the slopes, and the water is usually at the bottom of the mountain. Hauling water is women’s work, and the women are often pregnant and leading a toddler on a long trek down to the road or spring and then back up a steep and stony track, with one bucket for the family’s drinking and cooking needs.


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