Angels in Bali
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Anton Muhajir Read : 1119 Date : Sunday, July 10, 2016 - 20:45:30

    Photograph by Anton Muhajir

    Bali is not all about glamor, as many Balinese live in impoverished and underprivileged communities. I’m an Angel (IAA), a nonprofit organization based in Seminyak, helps these communities in four areas: education, environment, healthcare and microfinance. It works in Bali’s underdeveloped rural areas such as Munti Gunung hamlet, about 180 km from Denpasar. In this village, IAA helped children to attend school.

    “Children’s education and women’s health are entry points for us to empower the poor in rural areas because their poverty comes from a lack of education,” says IAA founder Asana Viebeke Lengkong, 58, who owns a successful property business in Seminyak. Although born into an elite family, she was taught about giving back early. Her father was the founder of one of Indonesia’s oldest shipping companies and a supporter of the Indonesian Socialist Party. Her mother was a film star. Their home in Jakarta was always filled with politicians, journalists and activists. Since childhood, Viebeke’s father liked to show her remote and poor parts of Java.

    Founded and based in Seminyak since 2003, IAA’s roots go back to the tragic Bali bombing in 2002. Since moving to Bali more than 40 years ago, Viebeke has also tried to give back through her own personal efforts. But after the bombing, she began to do these activities in a more organized way. She gave aid to victims and volunteers, helping them through the community group Parum Samigita. “We provided meals and drinks for those working at ground zero,” she says. Viebeke and her group also visited victims in hospitals and homes. They raised money, mainly from expatriates in Bali, to support the group’s activities and to donate to the victim’s families.

    After that experience, she decided to continue this activity under the name I’m an Angel, since the spirit of volunteers helping after the Bali bombing reminded her of angels. The motto of the organization was “We don’t give, we share.” Last year, in August, Viebeke got legal status for IAA as a foundation, Yayasan Bali Angel.

    Under the umbrella of four core missions, IAA is involved in many activities. For example, under healthcare, IAA helps develop water resources for rural villages, such as rainwater catchments. In some villages, local residents have to walk up to five kilometers to get water, so a catchment nearby the village makes their life easier. The IAA also helps improve rural roads. Paleg is one such village. Located around 200 km from Denpasar, it is virtually cut off from the rest of Bali due to poor infrastructure and potholed, winding roads that make access difficult. IAA helped with the construction of a road connecting Paleg to surrounding villages and towns.