Bali: what Australians don’t know about the paradise island
Great beaches, delicious food and, of course, great shopping.
Bali is the island paradise that thousands of Australians flock to every year, but far from the tourist hotspots there is a harrowing sight many never see.
And Australian expat and philanthropist Dean Keddell is revealing the truth about what’s really going on in Bali, because behind the famous tourist tapes and smiles lies a terrible reality for many.
Dean is the chef and owner of two restaurants in Bali; Ginger Moon Canteen and Jackson Lily’s. More recently, he is also the author of Our Bali Your Balia cookbook written during the pandemic to help raise funds for locals.
“Bali is known as an island paradise,” Dean told news.com.au.
“But it should be an island paradise for everyone, not just the chosen few. There are millions of tourists visiting Bali every year, in a normal year, and many people don’t know what happens outside their hotel walls.
“There’s more to Bali than beach clubs, pools and cocktails.
Because here, 202,000 people live on less than $2 a day, according to the local site Bali Coconut. And more broadly, Indonesia has the fifth highest concentration of poor people in the world, with at least 100 million people living on $2 or less a day.
It’s a huge problem, and when Covid-19 hit and tourism was halted, it had a devastating impact on Bali, with many locals losing their main source of income, pushing them further into poverty.
With no choice but to close his restaurants, Dean was inspired to help the locals however he could. So he wrote his cookbook, which has since raised an impressive $540,000 for charity. However, he says it is a drop in the ocean of what is needed to help those who are struggling.
“When I see that my business is closed (due to Covid-19) and I see the pain and anguish on the faces of my staff, I asked myself a question,” he said. “I can help these people, but if I don’t, what kind of person am I? So the answer is simple, I have to help.
With proceeds from his cookbook, Dean supports five non-governmental organizations and sees what life is like for many people away from tourist areas, from the slums of Denpasar to the more remote areas of Bali, where many don’t even have access. drinking water, sufficient food, shelter, medical attention or even a toilet.
Dean also talks about how the world is full of contrasts; the haves and the have-nots, and Bali is home to a huge contrast. It refers to the statue of Garuda Wisnu Kencana, which stands 122 meters high and cost $100 million to build, while all around people live in poverty.
“It’s one of the biggest statues in the world, and behind it are some of the poorest people in the world,” Dean said.
The statue is located in the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, south of Denpasar.
He is also currently producing a documentary series titled Paradise waiting, and recently released her second video at a local charity dinner. It exposes the harsh reality faced by so many people in the impoverished Desa Ban area of Bali, due to extreme isolation.
Here, the basics of life are absent, with some having to walk for hours every day just to get water for drinking, cooking and if there is any left, bathing. This is an area where time seems to stand still.
“These are heartfelt stories from people lost in time that shatter our very definition of an island paradise,” Dean said.
On his way to the remote village, Dr. Gde Ngurag Indraguna recounted how shocked he was by what he saw.
“I’m surprised because this village is so poor, it’s isolated, dry,” said Dr Gde. “People are very dirty too. Many of their children have skin diseases.
“There’s a lot of stunting out there, people are so skinny and short.”
Meanwhile, Ban Village resident Ni Wayan talked about what it was like growing up there.
“Before, I lived in the middle of the forest,” she says. “What happened when I was a kid, we didn’t have water tanks.
“There was no water. My childhood was very difficult.
She said she would go to the water tank “about four times a day, on a path full of obstacles and it would take about an hour each time”.
Dean works alongside David Booth, founder of the East Bali Poverty Project, to help locals. David noted that the area’s high death rate has started to show signs of improvement since the charity started helping.
“When we conducted a survey in 1999-2000 with Dr Indraguna, the average infant mortality before the age of one was 30%,” David said.
“…For about 10 years – of the approximately 300 children born each year – none of them have died in the past few years, except one last year and one three years ago.”
But there is still a lot to do. So how can you help? Dean believes that every person on this planet should have the basics of human rights and be able to live their lives with dignity.
“To ensure that Bali is a paradise for everyone who lives here, we must help the incredible foundations that provide clean water, food, clothing, shelter, health, empowerment and education to the thousands who lack it,” he said.
You can find out more on Dean’s website, Our Bali Your Bali. And here are the five charities that receive funding from Dean:
1. Bali Children’s Foundation – helps thousands of local children complete their education and
to find a job.
2. Scholars of Sustenance – fighting the effects of poverty by providing food
those in need.
3. Friends of the National Parks Foundation – working to protect wildlife and their habitats,
while supporting local communities.
4. East Bali Poverty Project – building communities from scratch, while enabling
people to help themselves.
5. Bali Wise by ROLE Foundation – empowering marginalized women with skills
education, as a means of developing sustainable communities.