“You have no idea how much these dictionaries will impact these children’s lives.” – Marg Berry (the Founder of Bali Children Foundation) whispered to me.
That was one of the many moments that made July 20, 2018 so special. Thanks to our incredible customers, we were able to donate our first 102 dictionaries to the children of Songan village in northeast Bali.
The day began with an early wake-up call and a three hour drive up to north Bali. Last year, Songan was hit with a mud slide that killed 12 people and devastated much of the community. After the tragedy, Bali Children Foundation (BCF) held a fundraiser to help get the village back on its feet and implemented their educational program into the schools there. I had the opportunity to visit these schools last year and was incredibly moved by the resilience of the community. That is why I decided that this village would be the perfect recipient of our first dictionary donation.
When our group arrived at the school we were greeted by the smiling faces of the beautiful children. We were escorted to a classroom where 102 students were patiently waiting to receive their new dictionaries.
I looked out and saw the eagerness and excitement on their faces, and in that moment my heart nearly exploded. One by one, the children lined up to receive their new dictionary. Each one gave me a hug and said “thank you so much for your donation!" We proceeded to take photos with each child, and I could feel how important they felt having this special moment.
When I shook their hands and saw their smiles, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The pure gratitude that they showed made me realize why I work so hard on August Effects. It also made me reflect on how appreciative I am to every one of my customers for allowing me to give back to this amazing organization.
When we finished handing out the dictionaries, the children returned to their seats. In unison, they held up their dictionaries and screamed, "thank you so much for your donation!!". That moment may have been the greatest moment of my life.
That was only the beginning of the day. After the donation was completed, we went outside to play. Our videographer, Marlo, brought a drone to get some aerial shots of the village. Needless to say, the children were mesmerized.
(The children checking out the drone!)
After running around in the yard and playing, it was time for class. The children broke up into two classes – one for the younger kids and one for the older kids. The older children watched a video on how best to use their dictionaries. The teacher taught them how to look up words and other helpful tips.
(The students looking up words in their new dictionaries.)
They proceeded to play a game in which the teacher would say a word in Bahasa Indonesia and the children would have to look up the English translation. They formed teams and the first team to run up to the board and write the word in English, received a prize. I was amazed by how invested the children were in the game. Their eagerness to use their dictionaries and learn new words made me realize that these students fully grasp the importance of learning English for their future.
At one point during the day, I walked out of the classroom and found a group of boys reading together outside.
The younger children were in another classroom where the teacher had them use their new dictionary to look up words and then paint photos of those words. The kids loved this activity and were painting photos of different types of fruit, beach landscapes, etc. The top 3 students then received a price for their hard work (ramen noodles)!
(The three winners of the game.)
There are three different types of dictionaries that we gave out, depending on the grade level of the student. The elementary children receive a dictionary that incorporates photos and activities for them to learn English. The older children receive two different kinds of larger, more traditional dictionaries. We, along with BCF, want to make sure that we meet the specific needs of students depending on where they are in their educational progress. This ensures that the dictionaries will be used to their utmost potential.
(The students all showing off their new dictionaries - you can see the three different types we give out based on their grade/skill level.)
It is absolutely crucial for the children in these villages to learn English. It is a requisite skill if they want to attend University or get a well-paying job in their future. Without English, job opportunities in Bali for these kids are scarce and essentially limited to work on family farms for income well below subsistence levels. As tourism and hospitality are the main drivers of the economy on the island, children that can speak English are more likely to get jobs in this industry (jobs that pay 10-20 times more than any other job they could get). This is why BCF focuses on English and computer classes for their students. These invaluable skills lead the children on a path to success where they can get high paying jobs benefiting not just themselves, but their families and communities as well.
Over the next six months, we will work with BCF to assess the progress of the students' education. Based on the results, we will make our next dictionary donation and help impact even more lives.
(Wayan and Martini - two of the incredible staff members of BCF.)
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every person who has purchased an item from August Effects. You are truly making an impact on the lives of these children and for that, I could not be more grateful. Please continue to help us spread the word about August Effects' mission so we can continue to make a difference.