Established in 1998, East Bali Poverty Project (EBPP) is a non-profit organization with focus on the mountain villages people in the east side on Bali. Village Ban is one of their ongoing projects. It is the most remote and disadvantage village in Bali, located on the steep and dry eastern slopes of Mount Agung and Mount Abang. To reach there requires some efforts. On the road to Besakih Temple, take a left turn to penetrate the protected forests of Mount Agung, negotiating narrow and winding sandy tracks, just enough for one sturdy car. It is actually not a road but the flow path of the water when it rains, which is used by the residents around the forest to get grass for feeding their cows. The village of Ban is located right after the protected forest.
When the EBPP started in 1998 after request by the village for help, basic facilities were not available in this part of the island. No road, electricity, water supply, and not even phone signal. As for the natural source, they don’t have river or paddy field. Rain water is the only major source of water they can rely on. There is a dirt road that cut across the village, but that is actually a valley between Mount Agung and Mount Abang. This access comprised sandy and rocky slopes that get flash flood when it rains or when rain occurs only at the Mount Agung slope. If that happens, people of Ban could not get out of their hamlets until the water receded.
Deeper on the dirt road to the other end side of the village, there is Jatituhu, one of the hamlets in Ban village. More than 100 families live here in a housing compound with only approximately 10 to 15 houses close to each other in a central area. The houses are small and made from bamboo bedeg. Children ran around with no clothes and bare food.
It is hard to believe that it was already 18 years ago. But not much change in the lives of the Jatituhu people at the present day, except now they have electricity, better road, water reservoir, toilets, more active Posyandu and education for their children. The last four are the EBPP programmes with Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) elimination as our first programme in 2001 as the goitre rate reached 84.5%.
In Jatituhu, EBPP made their contribution to build up basic facilities such as water reservoir, health facilities and toilets. In 2005, they started the children education programme in Jatituhu after starting the others 4 education programmes in the others 4 hamlets in Ban villages. The closest elementary school for Jatituhu is located in Temakung hamlet within 5 kilometres with access footpath. At that time most of the children of school age do not attend school. The distance to the junior high school around 15 kilometres.
Since the launch of their first hamlet school in Bunga on 1999, EBPP now manages 6 remote schools in the hamlets of Bunga (1999), Cegi (2000), Pengalusan (2000), Manikaji (2001), Jatituhu (2005) and Darmaji (2007). They manage programme for Elementary, Junior High and Senior High School level in these 6 hamlets of Village Ban. Up to this day, EBPP has been educated more than 1,000 children in their 6 schools.
These children are not only studying the national mandatory subjects in the class, but they are also integrated life skills they need to empower them for a better future. The main subjects of the study in the elementary level are including health, hygiene, sanitation, art, music and Balinese dance. For junior and senior high school students, they are also learning nutrition, reproductive health, computer & financial literacy, job applications & life skills. Bamboo handicraft skill is a mandatory study in EBPP programme. With their latest programme, EPBB aims to empower the students to create own bamboo business so they don’t have to leave their village to find a job. Their future is in their own village.
At the moment, EBPP is struggling with the limited fund to continue these education programmes. They need funding to continue the primary and secondary school education in these remote hamlets. Having a proper level of education will them access to a better future. “Help us to help them help themselves.”
Courtesy of East Bali Poverty Project