Beautiful friends, family, customers and store owners who have purchased our products – thank you so much!! Due to your orders over the last six months we had 155 new English dictionaries to donate to Bali Children Foundation (BCF) during out donation on Feb. 6th! Read below to learn about where we donated the dictionaries and how the day went down!
(The Founder of BCF, Marg Berry and I with the students at Gili Meno school)
Where did the Donation Take Place?
In August 2018, the island of Lombok (directly next to Bali) was hit with two major earthquakes. The earthquake on August 5th had a magnitude of 6.9 and killed 460 people. The earthquake triggered landslides which leveled homes, mosques and businesses; displacing thousands of people as they fled into the streets. The quakes also severely impacted the small surrounding islands next to Lombok, called the Gili islands.
(A photo I took outside the school on Gili Trawangan)
After the earthquakes, BCF got involved to help raise funds and get the schools and communities back on their feet. Their aid has been ongoing which is why the Founder of BCF, Marg Berry, suggested our new dictionaries be donated to the children in the schools on these islands.
There are three Gili Islands – Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan. Currently, BCF has implemented its English program at the school on Gili Meno (there is only one school on the whole island) and had hopes of getting the schools on Gili Air and Gili Trawangan on board.
(Photo of the school on Gili Meno called SDN3 where we donated the 155 new English dictionaires)
Marg and I planned a trip to the Gili’s with the intention to donate the dictionaries to the students on Gili Meno, since they can start utilizing them right way. We also decided to go to Gili Air and Gili Trawangan and meet with the headmasters to inform them about the BCF program and hopefully get them set up with BCF.
The Dictionary Donation
Brining the dictionaries to Gili Meno was quite the experience! They had to be packed as securely as possible to endure a flight from Bali to Lombok, a two-hour car ride from one side of the island to the other, then finally a boat ride in a tiny boat to the small island of Gili Meno (all this while it was raining, might I add). But thanks to the incredible staff at BCF, the dictionaries arrived in perfect condition.
(The first batch of dictionaires arriving in Gili Meno)
On the morning of Feb. 6th, we woke up early and took a horse and buggy (there are no cars on the island so this is the main form of transportation) to the school there called SDN 3 Gili Indah Gili Meno.
(Our horse and buggy ride to SDN3 on Gili Meno)
This school has been very challenging for BCF. They implemented their program there in 2016 and that year all students dropped out of school after Grade 6. In 2017, 1 out of 8 students moved on to junior high school. They have seen gradual improvement though and in 2018, 12 out of 13 students continued on to junior high school. This indicates a significant improvement in education perception and the aspirations of the residents of Gili Meno.
Just as a refresh - what BCF’s program does is set up a classroom at schools in areas where education or resources are poor. They bring in a necessary resources for the classroom as well as install a large screen TV that is used to deliver the English learning program. They hire teachers that BCF trains to go to these school twice a week to teach an English program that has been set up by BCF to make it friendly and exciting for the children to learn English. They learn based on visuals and activities that are used on the TV. They also (if they have the means) give each child an English dictionary that is theirs to keep and learn from, that works in conjunction with the program. Gili Meno school has never received dictionaries so this was very exciting for the children as well as the teacher (the one that showed up that day). He was THRILLED that the children were receiving dictionaries and expressed how incredibly helpful these would be for the children’s studies.
Marg and I passed the dictionaries out to the children and even though they were a more deserved bunch, you could see and feel their gratitude and appreciation.
(The children holding up their new dictionaires proudly)
The main industry on the island of Gili Meno is tourism so the children know if they want a well-paying job in their future, it is crucial to learn English.
My favorite part of these donations is afterwards, when I see groups of kids huddled up together reading their dictionaries to each other. You can see the ah-ha moments and expressions on their faces as they learn new words and start understanding phrases. Their excitement is palpable and it is beautiful to witness.
(While Bali is mostly Hindu, the Gili Islands are mostly Islamic which is why many of the children wear hijabs)
After the dictionary donation, we headed to the island of Gili T which was the most destroyed by the earthquakes. The children are still learning in tents and much of the island is still being rebuilt.
(Photo outside of the school on Gili Trawangan)
(Classes are being held in these tents as the school is slowly rebuilt)
We met with the headmaster and the head teacher to talk about the ways we can help. The most obvious, is implementing the BCF program at their school. After Marg explained the program to them in Bahasa, the teachers seemed eager but nervous. Finally, the headmaster asked how much a program like this would cost them? Marg response, “It’s free”. The look on their faces was priceless. They truly couldn’t believe that there was an organization providing these incredible courses at no charge; strictly with the mission to give these children a better education and better future. Needless to say, they signed up immediately and were thrilled to get started. We took a tour of the school and met many of the children before heading to the third island, Gili Air. A similar experience happened at Gili Air, and they too signed up, ecstatic for BCF to start implementing their program at the school.
(The Founder of BCF, Marg Berry with the headmaster and head teacher signing the paperwork to get started with BCF)
The day was full on – with an array of emotions swirling through me. I was incredibly grateful for our August Effects customers for helping us provide these 155 dictionaries but there was a fire inside of me that knew I had to keep pushing to do more.
BCF needs 1,500 dictionaries for the students in their programs. So far, we have donated a total of 257. It is a great start but we have a long way to go.
Needless to say, I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of you for purchasing our products and helping us change these children lives. I hope you will continue to do so and help us spread the word about August Effects so we can continue to make a difference.